DVD review: High-Rise (4 out of 5)

High-Rise SUS-160717-142539001
High-Rise SUS-160717-142539001

Director Ben Wheatley and his writing partner Any Jump are firmly established as creators of provocative, exciting and thought-provoking movies.

Wheatley grabbed our attention back in 2009 with Down Terrace, and he and Jump have brought us the frightening Kill List, the black comedy Sightseers and the weird and wonderful A Field in England.

With this success has come the chance to work with some great actors and High-Rise has plenty of those.

Tom Hiddleston leads the way, but we also have Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Keeley Hawes, Luke Evans and Sienna Guillory.

But what I particularly like about Wheatley is that he still calls on his tried and trusted ‘gang’ of actors who have served him so well so far.

So we also have Reece Shearsmith and Tony Way with decent roles, plus the likes of Julia Deakin and Neil Maskell in camero appearances.

Wheatley/Jump are not known for pulling any punches and this film certainly aims to shock, with plenty of violence, sex scenes and drug use.

Based on a story by J.G. Ballard, High-Rise is set in the mid-1970s and sees architect Royal (Irons) building five high-rise buildings in the East End of London.

Dr Laing (Hiddleston) moves into the first completed building after a recent family tragedy and it’s obvious he is looking to blend in and disappear with the masses.

But with social divisions all too obvious (the rich live on the higher floors) tensions start and society begins the break down. Food becomes scarce, utilities stop working and the ‘them and us’ divisions become hardened.

Laing ends up embroiled at the centre of this ‘civil war’, with his own grip on reality fracturing along with the building.

No marks for working out that the high-rise is a depiction of civilisation itself, but as a microcosm.

And it’s no real surprise that Margaret Thatcher’s voice is featured at one stage, the defining voice of the late 70s and 80s, during which making money and improving oneself at any cost seemed the number one goal.

Hiddleston is in great form, as is Evans (playing the pivotal role of TV producer Wilder) and Irons also takes full advantage of his meaty role.

So, if you are tired of sequels, re-boots and disappointing franchises, then High-Rise will show you a far more adventurous and welcome side to the industry.

High-Rise is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from today (July 18).