Given that there have already been films about a man-eating fridge (The Refrigerator), a killer elevator (The Lift) or a blood-drinking bike (I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle), it shouldn’t be a surprise that someone – director Elza Kephart, who also co-wrote with Patricia Gomez – would make a film about a vampire line of jeans. Smartly keeping the running time down to a trim 77 minutes, this comes up with enough variations on ways in which expensive trousers can murder people not to get tedious and there’s cartoonish satire of a hypocritical hypothetical outfit (the Canadian Cotton Company) who claim not to use child labour or GMOs in their jeans manufacture and enforce a cheerfully brutal shop floor ethos in their sales techniques. There’s even a serious nugget about the exploitation of far-off labour, which scores political points and explains why the killer pants’ apparent secret weakness is a compulsion to dance when a Bollywood song plays over the tannoy.
There’s something of the spirit of Bucket of Blood/Little Shop of Horrors era Roger Corman in the broadly comic style and enclosed setting – a flagship CCC store in lockdown overnight as the new line of literally smart jeans (they mould to fit the wearer) are prepped for launch during a ‘Monday Madness’ sale. Naïve new hire Libby (Romane Denis), an idealist who believes in the company’s supposed ethics, rushes into the hard-bitten cynics who keep the shop running, especially feral manager Craig (Brett Donahue), who tidies away the first few corpses because he doesn’t want a massacre to spoil his promotions chances.
In something that’s likely to become a popular trope, one of the prime victims is a social media influencer (Erica Anderson) who gets throttled by the killer jeans, but there are a range of imaginative denim-related fatalities (with the SS logo on the back pocket reddening as each victim’s blood is consumed). Kephart has credits like ‘assistant to production designer’ on The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and ‘art department clerk’ on a couple of X-Men films, which may have given her special insight into the lot of a downtrodden minion. Considering the budget level, the design of the monster – the scarlet seams are a nice touch – is excellent, and the special effects far better than expected.