Monday, May 16, 2016

[Review] High-Rise

Unconventional horror director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England) sets sights on residency at High-Rise, a film based on J.G. Ballard's novel of the same name. This 70s-tinged freak-out is all a blatant mess of madness, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good mess of madness. Stylistically it's reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange--but inert. It's well-shot trash.

Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) has just moved into a towering apartment. The fortress is either a utopia or a dystopia, depending on your class. The haughty rich live at the top, while the less-fortunate dwell at the bottom. Robert, who seems to be in one long trance the entire film, learns his way about the politics from neighboring tenants played by Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss, Luke Evans, and Jeremy Irons--the building's architect, who of course lives on the highest floor.

If the you think the premise sounds a bit like a vertical Snowpiercer, you'd be right (except it's way less thrilling). Given the frenzied and slyly foreboding music, the Kubrick-influenced views, the power outages, and the angsty characters, we know that things are eventually going to hit the fan (and everything else). The cinematography is stellar, focusing on the retro-futurist sets and prominent diagonal angles--staircases, hallways, and mirrored reflections. Not a single frame goes by that isn't provocative. Even the top portion of the building deviates away like crooked steps into the clouds.

But despite being artfully filmed, the substance becomes overbearingly tedious. There's only so much time you can put up with such uninteresting and insufferable, narcissistic weirdos partake in eye-rolling debauchery. Once the destructive free-for-all does ensue during the film's back half, it's not very amusing or engaging because there's no major suspense, coherency, shock, or payoff to any of it. It's practically just a bunch of zombie-esque people tearing the place and each other apart. It drags and drags toward its end--to the point where you might want to jump out of the window yourself.

( 5/10 )

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. It was certainly well shot and the set design was top class, but I found myself growing more and more intolerant and inpatient with it. I appreicated it, but didn't like it (it that makes sense).