A Pointless Mess
Rarely do we witness such incompetence in well-funded storytelling. The meandering timidity of this film sank it before it even managed to exit the harbor.
While cinematography and heavy stylization made for an intriguing trailer, that’s as far as it got. Cribbing tropes from Cronenberg, Gilliam and Kubrick should have provided more than enough raw materials, but here produced only facile emptiness. The story is an adaptation of a novel, and doesn’t seem to have translated well.
The main character isn’t doing anything in particular for almost the entirety. He’s unworthy of his own film. It’s more of a location full of oddballs, but without enough glue to keep the High Rise from crumbling. It’s like they didn’t know what they wanted to say but were hell-bent on saying it anyway.
At one point, a midpoint perhaps, the rich upstairs group decides to throw a party to outdo the rabble. Yes there’s some nonsensical version of a class conflict. The scene involves drawing up a list to go to the supermarket. I’d say Porky’s had more dramatic gravitas or Revenge of the Nerds. The High Rise people really didn’t put much thought into the buildup, or into any plot. Way too much inconsequential time wasting, and not enough meat on the bone. It does pick up later on, which just goes to highlight how much of a snore most of the film is.
High Rise flips a switch and descends instantly into apocalyptic chaos. This has no reasonable cause and is shoe-horned. Through this Lord of the Flies / Mad Max period the main guy remains as inactive and bland as before, perhaps the point, but a boring and tedious one to endure.
I can see where it might have been reworked and made some kind of sense. This version just didn’t click.