I had no idea what to anticipate from Kelsey Egan’s Glasshouse. It seemed intriguing from the description—a family surviving a memory-wasting poison while living out their lives in a glasshouse. But the dystopian fever dream given was both gorgeous to look at and disturbing in the world’s grim cult-like future. It’s one of the festival’s best movies this year, and everyone who likes dark storytelling should see it.
Glasshouse gets right to work, painting a picture of how these young ladies are dealing with the future they find themselves in. Humans are killed and dismembered as a way of life. They must use every resource available to them to survive the bleak world they have found themselves in. These grim activities are on the whole show from the first minute, with one of the young ladies shooting and murdering a guy who makes the mistake of stepping into their tiny refuge in the middle of a wasteland.
The proceedings have a surreal air to them, with the young individuals, most of whom are under the age of 20, engaging in acts of murder as if they were playing with toys. Morality has long since vanished from the world, as the young performers demonstrate throughout the film. The cult-like family teaches you all you need to know, and the performers do an excellent job in their roles. ‘Mother’ (Adrienne Pearce), Bee (Jessica Alexander), Gabe (Brent Vermeulen), Evie (Anja Taljaard), and Daisy (Kitty Harris) all portray a caring but chilly image, and it all works effectively at pulling you into their world.
When a stranger (Hilton Pesler) is saved by Bee and brought into their world, everything falls apart. We get a feel of what this family has to go through to survive through his eyes. It is also here that we get a feeling of the violence lurking under the surface. As he works his way into their lives, the level of concealing their own anguish and suffering is gradually revealed. Everyone in the family is injured, yet there is something about having air that makes you forget.
Glasshouse is a narrative that begins in the middle of their lives, and we, as viewers, are gradually given facts that everyone in their universe knows to some level. From the extent to which society has disintegrated to why the family selects their roles and traditions. Information is progressively revealed as we are let inside their past and recollections. Tidbits are offered when the protagonists experience glimpses of what they have been through, and what is left of their feeble minds gradually crumbles and gives way.
Glasshouse presents a world rife with mystery, loss, and sorrow, all wrapped in a veneer of elegance and flair, from sexually heated relationships to incest and forgotten anguish. This is a lot more complex film than its surface suggests, and authors Emma Lungiswa De Wet and Kelsey Egan have created a beautifully devastating narrative with elements of emotion that we have all experienced at some time in our lives.
Any further explanation would reveal the film’s mysteries, which make it so intriguing. This narrative must be experienced, with each new discovery adding a little more flesh to the universe’s bones. It explains why the family is the way it is and why their behaviors, which appear harsh, are necessary for their survival.
Glasshouse is a hauntingly beautiful film that exploits current reality to depict a society on the verge of collapse. The Victorian aesthetic combined with current thoughts creates an eerily out-of-time image that is both eerie and fascinating. The performers do an excellent job in their roles, conveying a sense of their personalities via actions rather than explanation. The outstanding character, Peeler, is brilliantly cunning as he gradually attempts to gain the upper hand while always trying to look innocent of the violence he thinks he must resort to for survival.
When you look behind the beautiful façade, Kelsey Egan has created a film that is both fascinating and terribly frightening. It plays on real-world anxieties and the notion of family in an astonishingly effective way, providing only a taste of a prospective future that we have all thought conceivable in recent years. Glasshouse is without a doubt one of the greatest genre films to come out in the last year if you want thrillers that go beyond their subject matter to get under your skin.
Glasshouse is one of the most frightening and aesthetically arresting horror films to enter theaters this year, and it’s a must-see for anybody who wants to experience a tale that stays with them long after they’ve seen it.