Ben Wheatley is a horror director to watch. He actually launched his career with a masterpiece, the profoundly disturbing and creepy Kill List (which you can see streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and you really should), but he’s also shown a lot of facility with horror comedy with Sightseers, and just a straight-up mind screw with A Field In England. And now he’s adapting High-Rise, a book by J.G. Ballard, author of such feel-good tomes as Crash and Empire Of The Sun.
If you’re not an obsessive Ballard dweeb like yours truly, High-Rise takes place in the near future and is set in, as you may have guessed, a high-rise apartment building. It’s one of those “self-contained” type places where there’s shops in the basement and the apartments get progressively more expensive the higher up you get. This being a J.G. Ballard novel, things fall apart quickly: The building divides by class structure, and each “class” starts killing each other. Also sometimes eating each other! Yeah, it’s that kind of book.
If you’ve never read it, and considering it only recently was reprinted in the U.S. you probably haven’t, it’s a pretty disturbing piece of science fiction. Ballard always loved the idea of communities and people cutting themselves off from the outside world and melting down, but here he made it spectacularly ugly even by his standards. Even creepier is the fact that buildings like this are actually fairly commonplace, now; I live near several of them, and I barely see the residents. It kind of makes you wonder just what’s happening in those towers…
Anyway, it’ll apparently start shooting in 2014 and keep an eye out: This is right up Wheatley’s alley, and it might just be the sleeper horror film of the year.