High-Rise (2015)

2016 #123
Ben Wheatley | 119 mins | Blu-ray | 2.40:1 | UK & Belgium / English | 15 / R

High-RiseI was looking forward to this sci-fi-ish ’70s social satire, but, having let it percolate for a few months, I still have no real grasp of what it was about. I mean, it’s obviously about society, but what its point about society is… I have no idea.

I will add it reminded me of Shivers. I didn’t like Shivers.

Technical merits are first rate — it’s magnificently designed, shot, and edited; a visual delight throughout. Plus it finds two fantastic uses for Abba’s S.O.S. But at a full two hours, pleasant aesthetics are slight sustenance.

Not so much disappointing as indecipherable.

3 out of 5

14 thoughts on “High-Rise (2015)

    • I would say this isn’t as bad as A Field in England, but it’s somewhere in that spectrum. The early reviews I’ve seen for his next one, Free Fire, sound promising — the biggest criticism I read was that it’s too simple/straightforward!


  1. Unlike ghost I really liked both HIGH RISE and FIELD IN ENGLAND – whether his stuff’s to your taste or not I find something deliciously unsettling, creepy and biting in Wheatley’s work. Each to their own obvs

    I think the key to this one lies in when the novel was written, in the mid 1970s, the country going through one of its familiar pre-Thatcher crises over the benefits of state versus private ownership. Ballard imagined the perils of letting the latter take over in HR, the unfettered freedom of no state interference, leading to the chaos of the last act. That’s how I read it anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’m somewhere between the two of you! I found parts of Field unsettling for all the right reasons, and other parts just a slog.

      I’d wager your reading of High-Rise is on the money, especially as that’s a theme that has no small relevance right now and so would likely inspire Wheatley to make the film. Part of me thinks it still doesn’t explain actions/reactions on a character level, but maybe that’s beside the point — it is about things breaking down, after all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it’s the relevance to now that makes it so compelling and, to me, what the characters got up to towards the end was supposed to represent everything breaking down, but that’s kind of echoing what you said, and now I’m terrified to go read some official interpretation that rubbishes all I’ve said!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Based on how reticent they were to discuss the meaning(s) of A Field in England, I’m not sure there will be an official interpretation!

          I can’t remember if the Blu-ray has a commentary. Maybe I should’ve listened (as I say, if it does). Though, again, I listened to the end of the Field in England one and it (deliberately) illuminated nothing, so…


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