Fantasia 2021: “Glasshouse”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Do we have to think of a dystopian future in the era of COVID-19, when we have our own challenges to overcome? Certainly, the cinematic universe will try to play with the story that unfolds in our world giving us a whole different perspective of a pandemic we were lucky enough not to experience so deeply.

From writer/director Kelsey Egan (co-written by Emma De Wet), “Glasshouse” follows a mother (Adrienne Pearce) and her three daughters – Bee (Jessica Alexander), Evie (Anja Taljaard) and Daisy (Kitty Harris). They live in a glass building that is being sealed by plastic to protect it from the outside world. To be precise, being safeguarded from the air that spreads a dementia-causing toxin. Seemingly all goes well as the woman is fully able to protect her children from the outside harm. But when a stranger enters their premises, things change, threatening the harmony they created so carefully but yet one’s that fragile.

Shot in the style of “Beguiled”, the South African science-fiction thriller brings the pain of isolation, fear of losing memory, and the importance of keeping the past alive. The mother is more like someone who holds the key to the memory, helping her children remember who they are. Not because it suits them – that’s not the case. Two sisters, Evie and Bee are taking care of their brother Gabe (Brent Vermulen), who no longer can take care of himself due to exposure to the toxin in the past. Despite his inability to think clearly or fully function on his own, it seems Gabe is the only one who sees the truth that may set everyone free from their despair and desperation if they listen to him more carefully.

The film is far from being great, however, it delivers a chilling culmination that literally makes you forget about all the faults and flaws you notice in the film throughout. Of course, there is nothing new being introduced in the film, but the talented cast makes the film work in every avenue, hoping for a better outcome, when, as you watch it, realize it would be naïve to expect one. And that is in the most important elements the film succeeds at exploiting – perception of loneliness, memory loss, past, present and future, and the deadly outcome when they all collude.

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