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  Glasshouse The Greenhouse Effect
Year: 2021
Director: Kelsey Egan
Stars: Jessica Alexander, Anja Taljaard, Hilton Pelser, Brent Vermeulen, Adrienne Pearce, Kitty Harris
Genre: Drama, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the near future, and after a number of pandemics, the world has been subjected to its most devastating, a condition known as the Shred which causes a form of dementia in the afflicted, draining their brains of their memories and leaving them in a childlike sense of utter unawareness of their personalities. This has caused widespread death around the globe, but some have managed to survive it, including the family in this pocket of greenery amidst the wastelands, a mother, her three daughters and her son. One daughter is still a child, but the others are more or less adults, and are able to take care of the day to day running of the glasshouse they inhabit, which offers them all the food they could want...

Unfortunately, that day to day maintenance includes an onerous task of keeping watch over the building by acting as a sniper against anyone infected who wanders into the small valley they stay in, gunning down whoever stumbles into their sights. This is a mostly stable existence, but the son, Gabe (Brent Vermeulen) is growing problematic, not coping with this literal hothouse life and throwing tantrums that are dangerously violent, though he has not injured anyone yet. That's all about to change when the elder sister Bee (Jessica Alexander) and middle sister Evie (Anja Taljaard) decide to go against the wishes of their mother (Adrienne Pearce) and take in a refugee from the disaster, as he is immune to the disease and has been injured in the leg. They want to help.

All very well, but what they do not know is this man may have some agenda which could threaten a lifestyle that, if it has not been idyllic, then it has been fairly peaceful in spite of the turmoil raging outside. So basically, what we were served up was a reimagining of The Beguiled only with a science fiction setting, though sharing that Clint Eastwood cult favourite's veering towards horror themes that it does not quite commit to and become a genre movie in that style. There was some business about the girls cutting up the bodies of the men they have shot for their personal use, but it did not go into great detail, and in the main it was the psychological torture we were supposed to be paying attention to, which despite this being a South African production did resemble a Southern Gothic out of the United States more than it did a specifically African narrative.

The family all spoke with posh English accents, for a start, which had you perhaps thinking back to the perverse dramas that would show up on post-watershed nineteen-seventies television, something like Play for Today when they went a bit weird every few weeks. It was very much that kind of character interplay, by necessity as director and co-writer Kelsey Egan did not have the budget to stage any grand, flashy effects sequences that science fiction fans who preferred action over ideas might have warmed to. Though with the cerebral comes problems, the main one here being that while there was a revelation or two arriving in the last act, you could be forgiven for being confused as to what was supposed to be going on with the mystery man (Hilton Pelser) who has been nurtured back to destructive health. It was like The Beguiled, sure, if Eastwood had gained the upper hand by the end, and more than that the feeling you were watching an overinvolved series of private games that meant more to the family playing them than any outsider who stumbled into them was difficult to shake off. Interesting, but for a very specific audience. Music by Patrick Cannnell.

[Signature Entertainment presents Glasshouse on Digital Platforms 7th February 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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