Even watching a preview will not prepare you for High-Rise. It draws you into its very core of debauchery, desperation and decay. It is destined to become a cult art-house cinema classic. Phoenix Picturehouse is just the perfect venue. Seeing it on its first night, one could justifiably go again just to take it all in. But only if you have the fortitude to do so.
Director Ben Wheatley, together with script writer Amy Jump, have done justice to R.G.Ballard's 1975 novel High-Rise and its sales may get a major boost from this intriguing film. Tom Hiddleston continues to be the face of 2016 film and screen, starring as the central character (Dr Robert Laing) and for his role as Jonathan Pine in the BBC series The Night Manager. Other notable actors include architect Anthony Royal played by Jeremy Irons who is 'Howard Hughes-esque' in his stand out performance. Elisabeth Moss (Helen Wilder) has a powerful role in this film too, the voice of the underdog struggling for salvation. Audiences might remember her from Mad Men and The West Wing.
This is not an easy film to comprehend. Experimental Psychologists may flock to it as to study its foray into behaviour and motivation. High-Rise highlights the human struggles and paranoia that evolve when a dream becomes fantasy enacted. What begins as an aspiring lifestyle soon turns into a nightmare. The ultimate convenience of never having to leave home for anything becomes the trigger for madness and mayhem. The idea of living, surviving and suffocating in the concrete tower in a mile square area 'that belonged to a different world' stirs up issues for the viewer are not too far from reality.
Film composer Clint Mansell's music transcends the images and at times even take centre stage. Arrangements of familiar tunes including 'Morning has Broken' are woven into scenes in such a subtle way. Can you spot the ABBA melody? The powerful orchestral and electronic score is one big draw to go and see High-Rise. The musical relevance is significant to the audience's involvement in this thriller and adds significant meaning amidst the chaos.
High-Rise will leave you alert and on edge but not too close to the edge.