It was reported recently that Ben Wheatley next movie would be an adaptation of J G Ballard's 1975 novel High Rise. It’s a story that takes place in an ultra modern, luxury high-rise block consisting of 40 floors and 1000 apartments and involves the breakdown of society. Shooting is due to start next year with a script by Wheatley's normal collaborator Amy Jump. On the back of this news I decided to indulge in a little guilty pleasure and watch 2012's Tower Block the first feature film for the James Nunn/Ronnie Thompson partnership.
Before the action begins we get the following information posted on the screen: The Tower Block was first built for affordable living after the Second World War. Communities welcomed them as their excellent views made them popular places to live. They deteriorated and become breeding ground for crime and violence. Redevelopers took over knocking them down. However, it's not easy moving out existing tenants. Serenity House awaits demolition. The top floor residents are the final people left to be rehoused.
Two hooded men chase another to the top floor of Serenity House, they beat him to death, a young women Becky (Sheridan Smith) leaves the safety of her flat to help the stricken man. She gets a good kicking for her trouble and is left unconscious. The police interview all the top floor tenants but no one admits seeing or hearing anything of the murder. We find out that the occupants are paying a young thug called Kurtis (Jack O'Connell), another tenant's of the top floor, to protect their homes. Other residents include a young married couple, a single mum who neglects her two kids, a computer game addict who lives with his mum (Scottish actress Julie Graham) and dad, a pair of drug dealers, an alcoholic (Russell Tovey) and a middle aged couple (Ralph Brown, Jill Baker). Three months pass and the developer is still struggling to evict the remaining tenants, and then all hell breaks loose when a sniper opens fire from an adjoining block changing the demographics of the top floor considerably.
This tension filled British thriller is ultra violent, has lots of killings, it's full of the clichés and it demands the suspension of your disbelief. But what it does do is entertain, gives plenty of jumpy moments and is well acted. Jack O'Connell, who has been in This is England (2006) Eden Lake (2008) and Harry Brown (2009) steals the show as Kurtis the buildings obnoxious racketeer. TV, film and acclaimed West End actress Sheridan Smith runs him a close second as Becky a character who’s determined not to go down without a fight. The sound effects are really good; every time a bullet is fired from the high-powered snipers rifle you leave your seat! This films never going to win prizes but it does what it say's on the tin it's gripping, entertaining and builds the anxiety suffered by the ‘victims’ of the Tower Block’s top floor with immense skill. I don’t care what the critics say: I liked it!!