Stars: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires, Fatma Mohamed, Julian Barratt, Steve Oram
Genre-bending director Peter Strickland's consumer satire meets comic horror feels like a Giallo picture reimagined as a disturbing early 80s UK sitcom. Sheila (Jean-Baptiste) is a fiftysomething bank clerk. Hounded by the bank’s passive aggressive HR staff (Oram and Barrett, excellent) and tired of being cooped up in her flat with her son and his sadomasochistic girlfriend (an initially unrecognizable Gwendoline Christie), she decides to re-enter the dating scene. A visit to Dentley and Soper’s Trusted Department Store follows where she is waited on by the comically sinister, vampish and thickly-accented shop assistant Mrs Luckmoore (Mohamed) who persuades her to buy a red dress for her date, this after Sheila has tried it on in the ‘transformation sphere’. The picture goes on to follow the progress of the dress which seems to possess occult powers, its journey scored to the retro-synth stylings of Cavern of Anti-Matter. The deadpan absurdist feel, spookily stilted dialogue and worn out VHS aesthetic may feel a little too self-consciously cultish at times, but it’s constantly compelling, archly amusing, and the cast are all game.