Friday, June 22, 2018

Ranking the Ben Wheatley films

I liked A Field in England well enough, and foolishly allowed myself to believe the comparisons of Kill List to The Wicker Man, so was a bit disappointed when Ben Wheatley didn't turn out to be the folk horror master I was over-optimistically hoping for. I still admire his singular style though, even when it's unpalatably horrible.

Here are The Top 7 Ben Wheatley Films according to someone a bit less enthusiastic than someone saying that would usually be.


Short film
Writer & director

7. U Is for Unearthed (2012)

I didn't watch the rest of The ABCs of Death (which poor sod got saddled with X?), but Wheatley's brief contribution of an undead Peep Show is nothing spectacular, presenting three minutes in the afterlife of some vampire or other. It's most notable for Michael Smiley making it out alive for once.

6. Free Fire (2016)

I'm not bloodthirsty enough for this extended shoot-out to maintain my interest, nor psychopathic enough to find it a hoot. If it wasn't for the admittedly satisfying continuity of returning actors and another minimalist setting, it wouldn't have any redeeming features.

5. Down Terrace (2009)

Fans of A Field in England should enjoy A Terraced House in England with its modest budget, familiar comedy faces to lull you into a false sense of sitcom and mellow folk soundtrack to juxtapose the etc. This one's in colour, but still mainly grey.

4. High-Rise (2015)

The collapse of vertical civilisation when it could just go outside is as silly as in Ballard's novel, but without the introspective narration explaining how clever and satirical it's all being. I could have done with seeing more than three floors, but I guess that's what the inevitable Netflix series is for.

3. Kill List (2011)

Most people would know what they were getting into with a title like that, and be surprised when their episodic hitman caper goes all weird, naked and culty in the last 20 minutes. But it was sold to me as a modern Wicker Man, so I was disappointed that it took so long to arrive at what was more a Wicker Man FPS.

2. A Field in England (2013)

What if Ben Wheatley directed an Inside No. 9? I was first drawn to this chiaroscuro Civil War phantasmagoria by the familiar faces from comedy, whose presence prevents it from plunging into the pit. An impressive feat of minimalism, even if it's not a trip I'm eager to take again in a hurry.

1. Sightseers (2012)

Writers and stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram skipped the usual six-part BBC Three series to bring their dangerous oddballs straight to the big screen. With Ben Wheatley bringing out the beauty of their bloody road trip, I'm happy to take quality over quantity.

Great to see the Cumberland Pencil Museum getting its long-overdue feature film debut too.

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