The Insurrection Cometh

What does anarchy look like? The events of January 6, 2021 when a violent mob stormed the U.S. capitol provided a chilling example of social order under siege but this has happened before. Remember New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005? The communications infrastructure was temporarily disabled, support services and emergency aid were unavailable and security became an issue as looting and other criminal activities took place until some semblance of order was restored by the arrival of National Guard troops a few days later. The absence of law enforcement and a rising sense of panic and chaos was broadcast to TV viewers around the world. Michel Franco’s New Order (2021), the Grand Jury Prize winner at the Venice Film Festival, taps into this fear of impending dystopia with a gripping thriller set in the wealthy enclave of what appears to be Mexico City but is never explicitly identified.

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High Rise Invaders

Long before Michael Haneke arrived on the scene with his original 1997 version of Funny Games (1997), a highly influential and deeply disturbing home invasion thriller, there were many precursors in this unsettling genre that date all the way back to 1939 with Blind Alley and its 1948 remake The Dark Past, in which a psychopathic killer and his gang crash a private gathering at the home of a psychologist. There have been varying tonal approaches to the subject over the years; some overwrought and pretentious like 1964’s Lady in a Cage, some meticulously detailed and artfully depicted as in the Oscar-nominated In Cold Blood (1967) and some purely exploitive and sadistic such as The Strangers (2008). But one of the lesser known but most intriguingly offbeat entries is The Penthouse (1967), the directorial feature debut of British director Peter Collinson.  Continue reading