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May 24, 2016

Ben Wheatley’s take on High-Rise is horrifying and immensely captivating


A doctor dines on a dog. A supermarket becomes a trash-filled wasteland. And a posh penthouse is turned into a hot spot for costumed orgies and the occasional horse. These are the indelible images presented in Ben Wheatley’s superb adaptation of High-Rise, the 1975 J.G. Ballard novel that foreshadowed Margaret Thatcher’s England in spirit, if not in canine-cuisine reality. Wheatley’s film starts at the bottom of the titular structure and builds upward, chronicling the social upheaval as the lower- and middle-class residents of a retro-futuristic condo clash with its upper-tier titans of industry. Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss round out the characters caught on all sides of the mess, each expertly embodying the paranoia and chaos of a revolution. Like Wheatley’s 2011 film Kill List, High-Rise switches genres effortlessly – black humour one moment, dystopic parable the next – until it becomes its own singular, horrifying, immensely captivating thing.