For Reel

High-Rise (2015)
June 26, 2016, 12:11 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ben Wheatley
1.5 Stars
High-RiseFor High-Rise to work, the character that is the eponymous building itself has to be understood—afterall, it is the key allegory, and ultimately the catalyst for the mayhem to come. Not only does the film lack a sense of verticality (for lack of a better term), it eschews any insight into how the society functions. For director Ben Wheatley, there is little difference in the way he approaches characters having a conversation in a room and two men beating each other senselessly. The camera roams, the editing fragments the action mercilessly, and every element of the mise en scene has a sense of over-directed plasticity. One could argue that this applies directly to the purposefully cold, detached perspective of the chaos, but Wheatley is more interested in surface for the sake of it—watch, for example, the clumsy attempt of a music video when Wheatley constructs a montage to a Portishead cover of ABBA’s “S.O.S.” The ugliness that befalls the high-rise is problematized by the fact that Wheatley demonstrates little but an eroticized, bemused perspective of it. He can’t help but to sensationalize everything. When Laing (Tom Hiddleston) peels the face off of a cadaver, a competent storyteller would suggest it parallels with the ugly underbelly lurking beneath the pristine surface of the tower. To Wheatley, the moment is played from every possible angle, pausing on the brutality to consider the depth of the blade and the sound that accompanies the tearing of flesh. The anarchy of the image predicts the manic action to come, but it also comes at the expense of all thought and ideas in favor of a gross out gag.