Audio Interview: Ben Wheatley on HIGH-RISE and Why You Won’t Hear Portishead’s “S.O.S.” Anywhere Else



SHOCK talks to director Ben Wheatley about his brilliant new Ballard adaptation HIGH-RISE.

British director Ben Wheatley has become, after only a handful of films, one of the most important contemporary filmmakers working. His dark, challenging films DOWN TERRACE, KILL LIST and A FIELD IN ENGLAND are revered and discussed and admired all over the world, by lovers of horror and dark fantasy films and non-genre fans alike.

His adaptation of controversial author J.G. BallardÂ’s allegorical horror story HIGH-RISE has been garnering just as much acclaim on the festival circuit and with very good reason.

The long in gestation (everyone from Nicolas Roeg to Vincenzo Natali were attached to the project at one point) film stars ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE lead Tom Hiddleston as Dr. Robert Laing, the latest resident to move into the upper-floors of a luxury British high rise apartment building. The apartment is completely self-contained, with an on-premises school, medical facility, shopping center and more. Literally, no resident need ever leave the skyscraper. And in both the film and the novel, they don’t. When minor inconveniences, from the elevator malfunctioning to brief power outages, ensue, the tenants – whose ranks include actors Jeremy Irons, James Purefoy, Luke Evans and Sienna Miller – begin to malfunction themselves, breaking off into “tribes” and engaging in bloody, orgiastic behaviors. The more alienated from the real world they become, the more madness takes its hold.

HIGH-RISE is perhaps Wheatley’s crowning achievement, a deranged amalgam of Luis Bunuel’s THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL and David Cronenberg’s SHIVERS but penned by one of dystopian horror’s greatest writers and overseen by a true emerging master.

SHOCK had the honor of speaking with Wheately today to talk about Ballard, the film, his cast and HIGH-RISE’s incredible music. The score is composed by the great Clint Mansell, but it’s the haunting cover of ABBA’s “S.O.S.” by trip-hop pioneers Portishead that has people talking and rightfully so…

Have a listen:

HIGH-RISE hits theaters May 13th and On Demand, Amazon Video and iTunes on April 28th.