1968: An inexperienced sailor enters a round the world race which he fears he won't be able to complete yet alone win. In order to save his dignity, he decides to cheat to come last but things don't go according to plan.
A woman (Amanda Fuller) who uses clothes as an emotional crutch discovers her life is not as ideal as she thought...
Director Simon Rumley has assembled a small stable of actors well-known for their recent horror contributions. We have both Alex Essoe ("Starry Eyes", "Tales of Halloween") and the perennial favorite Ethan Embry ("Late Phases", "Devil's Candy"). Leading the way is Amanda Fuller (Rumley's "Red, White and Blue", "Starry Eyes", "Cheap Thrills", and more recently "Last Man Standing"). If for no other reason, this cast makes the film worth a watch.
The counterbalance is Eric Balfour, a man with very wolflike features, which makes him perfect as the seductive third party to lure in Fuller's character. Balfour was in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", but interestingly enough also appeared in "Can't Hardly Wait" with co-star Embry. Frankly, Balfour's list of horror credits being so short is a surprise, as he has exactly the right look for it.
The cinematography has a strange, unnatural color palette, which seems to be Rumley's trademark. He (or cinematographer Milton Kam) used a similar device in "P is for Pressure". Perhaps not coincidentally, "Pressure" also had a certain plot element revolving around fashion / modeling. So is this another trademark of Rumley's: the love of clothes? Like the characters in "Fashionista", does he have a "special connection to clothes"? Well, without the addiction or running naked through stores, of course.
The film in general is quite good, though it does take a bit to get going. If you watch only the first half, you get a story about a second-hand store and infidelity. But it shifts gears in the second half to addiction and even darker themes, clearly treading into horror territory. We even get some interesting visual nods – a "Tenebrae" poster, and a "stitch woman" in a dream, which is unlike anything seen in film (the closest that comes to mind is "May").
"Fashionista" screened July 29, 2017 at the Fantasia International Film Festival. It is not the most conventional of horror stories, but that may be its strength. Simon Rumley went quickly from being a new face to being on the front lines for the next generation of genre fans. This film clearly adds to his already notable resume.
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