One To Watch: High-Rise

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One of Britain’s finest upcoming directors, teaming up with one of its greatest living novelists and a whole plethora of incredible acting talent to bring an uber-original dystopian nightmare to the big-screen. What’s not to love?

Hot on the heels of the runaway critical success of basically every single one of his releases to date (all four of them), dark-hearted Brit director Ben Wheatley will return in the second-half of 2015, bigger, bolder and (hopefully) even more brutal than ever. Looking to continue his own, homemade blend of ruthlessness and eccentricity that has earned him comparisons to the likes of David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino, fans of the darker side of cinema should definitely take note of Wheatley’s latest project, High-Rise.

Based on the classic sci-fi novel of the same name, written and released by legendary English novelist J.G. Ballard in 1975, the film will explore the isolated community of the titular tower block – a luxury metropolis existing outside of the realms of regular society – as shown through the eyes of young doctor Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston). Obviously, this being a Ben Wheatley film however, all may not necessarily be as it initially seems, and a growing class divide within the high-rise soon leads to the formation of violent tribes amongst its many floors and eventually, all out warfare of the weirdest order.

With the film boasting an eclectic cast of incredible British acting talent, from the aforementioned Hiddleston, to the likes of the fresh-faced Luke Evans (The Hobbit trilogy, Dracula Untold) and even legendary thespian Jeremy Irons – Wheatley’s rapidly-growing reputation is clear to see. But that’s not to say that he’s departed from his former, more low-key methods either. Although the cast may be more high-profile than his previous efforts, it is still very much Wheatley and his wife/partner in crime Amy Jump behind the entire operation, manning everything from writing duties to the overall edit, with as small a budget as physically possible.

It’s this more down-to-earth, DIY approach to filmmaking that has put Wheatley on the map in the past. His first feature Down Terrace was shot in just eight days and went on to receive awards at festivals around the globe, whilst his latest effort A Field In England featured a similarly low-rent set-up and won just as much acclaim from both critics and fans alike. In fact, Wheatley’s profile has risen such to the point where his next project and first American-funded effort, Free-Fire has been graced with none other than Martin Scorsese as an executive producer. The future is certainly looking bright.

One thing’s for sure, the pitch-black humour and general absurdity of Ballard’s novel is likely to stand hand-in-hand with Wheatley’s own sinister tones, making this a partnership destined for success. Its less-than-conventional style may put off some non-believers, but for originality alone, High-Rise is sure to be a winner.

Despite not yet revealing its eventual release date, High-Rise will premiere at a number of film festivals around the world, beginning in September. As such, it’s very likely that its first appearance on home-soil will be at the BFI London Film Festival this October, with a possible wider release following soon after. Rest assured though, this one is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

High-Rise (2015), directed by Ben Wheatley, is expected to be distributed in the UK by StudioCanal UK in the second half of 2015. Certificate TBC.

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Former Film Editor, Film graduate and general supporter of all things moving-picture related. Accidentally obsessed with Taylor Swift. Long-time Ellen Page fanboy.

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