- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : High-Rise

| November 11, 2016

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of High-Rise.

It’s standard irony that the first two reviews after Halloween have both been bizarre workaround horror films. Much like how The Neon Demon is a workaround vampire films, Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise is a work around haunted house film. It has all of the traits of a haunted house film, along with other traits that make it more Art House like and “smart”. The film is also a mess and convoluted. But we’ll get into that a bit later.

Also similar to The Neon Demon, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the director. I haven’t seen enough of Wheatley’s filmography to have a big opinion on him, to be fair. But the film that I did see, A Field in England, I was not a fan of. So I went in with somewhat low expectations. And I came out with a conflicted opinion of a film I think I like. But I might not like it. I’m kind of in the middle on this film.

From watching the trailers and other work of Wheatley, I can tell that he absolutely loves the 70s. Which is fine. I also love the 70s. It is probably my favorite decade. But Wheatley is pretty obsessed. The film never gives a date for when the film takes place, but you would be understood if you assumed it took place in the 70s. This has been the longest transition for any article ever to get to the point that the set design and the costume design is the best part of this film. The design of the building is completely gorgeous. Which is understandable as it is the main point of the film.

High-Rise follows a doctor, played by Tom Hiddleston, who moves into the new luxury apartment high rise. A building designed so that you would never have to leave. A gym on one floor and a grocery on another. The higher you are in the building, the more expensive your apartment will be. If you couldn’t figure it out, the main point of this film is class warfare. Literally warfare. This film gets extremely violent.

Some have compared this film to Snowpiercer. Personally, I liked this much more than I liked Snowpiercer. And a lot of that has to do with the costume and set design. These two categories go all out on this film. All of the sets are gorgeous and all of the costumes are gorgeous. But where there is beauty, there is also a dark linger to it. One that isn’t clear but is present. Something you can feel but can’t see. Until you can. And it becomes strange and extremely obvious.

Also similar to The Neon Demon, this film changes around halfway through. There is a turning point in this film where it becomes more mystical. Where The Neon Demon turns into a vampire film. Where this film turns into a haunted house film. It’s when this film gets violent and “exciting”, but honestly, it’s where the film falls in my mind. This film goes one to one million in a matter of seconds. And you are probably thinking that it just starts with a bang, but it doesn’t. It isn’t a sudden snap change, but a fade change that happens far too quickly. If that makes sense. In a snap change, like The Neon Demon, you go “Oh! This is different! But this is what we are doing now”. But in a rapid fade film like this you end up thinking “How did this happen? Why is everyone panicking? Why are we all bleeding all of the sudden?” This feels like an issue of both pace and writing. I knew what caused this to happen, but I didn’t know why everyone was reacting this way to it. It felt like the second act started with the characters feeling like they should in the third act but were playing catch-up the whole time. I worry that this isn’t clear enough, but I can’t figure out how to describe this any better.

The class warfare angle works, but will only work if you let it. This film is kind of absurd. There is no way this would happen and if you need realism in your films I wouldn’t recommend this one. But I had a fun time with this film because I choose not to try to poke holes in it. The film is a complete mess, with nothing making sense and nothing being real. But I am positive that was on purpose. You don’t make this thinking it is clean and proper. You don’t accidentally make this. Wheatley made this film with the intent of it being complete bonkers and being a crazy meltdown of a film. So you might not like that it doesn’t make sense or that it is non-sensical but that is completely the point. He did exactly what he wanted to do.

I really wanted to give this film four and a half stars. I really did. But the sudden fade in the film completely killed the film for me and the second half of the film kept dragging on me. I do really like this film. There is a lot of like about it, but there are also so many road bumps that it is hard to say it’s a smooth ride. I got too distracted by these other angles that I couldn’t focus on the larger picture, that is if there ever really was one.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.
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