Having a gym and laundry facilities is a pretty compelling sell, but what if an apartment building was so accommodating and convenient it had its own supermarket and school? That premise is teased out to sinister ends in the 1975 JG Ballard novel, High-Rise, as the lower, middle, and upper levels of the building become a caste system. As intriguing as the concept for a forthcoming adaption is, however, a major part of the appeal in the trailer comes from star Tom Hiddleston, who has gradually become one of the most interesting actors working today.
Like that other Tom H–Mad Max himself, Mr. Hardy–Hiddleston emerged out of seemingly nowhere to become a welcome presence in the last few years. One moment you had only a vague idea who either guy was and suddenly they’re all over big-ticket comic book movies. (The Dark Knight Rises in Hardy’s case, Thor and The Avengers for Hiddleston.) Then, just as several turns in the role of Asgardian god Loki threatened to lock Hiddleston into a box, the actor began to branch out and make smart artistic choices. His aquiline features graced a Jim Jarmusch vampire movie, a gothic horror story by Guillermo del Toro, and he suited up to play Hank Williams in a biopic that’s coming soon. At this point, he’s demonstrated his range and gone from someone you might be surprised to see pop up in things, to someone you look forward to and might leave the house for.
That’s what the makers of High-Rise are hoping, anyway. The moody trailer for the film looks distinctly Ballardian, a term the Collins English Dictionary describes as “Resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.” There’s an 80s vibe here, something like After Hours meets Brazil, sitting in a blender with David Cronenberg. At the helm is Ben Wheatley, the director behind haunting, head-scratching horror movie, Kill List.
Not only does High-Rise, which opens in March, look like a stylish, creepy thriller, it seems as though it will also be a referendum on Hiddleston’s appeal.