11. Films That Think They Are More Intelligent Than They Really Are
This year moviegoers have been subjected to a fistful of films that have tried to trick us into thinking we’re watching something cerebral. Movies that despite their gory or comedic premise, supposedly have a meaningful message to convey about society and humankind.
The Purge: Election Year, the third instalment in Blumhouse’s dystopian horror franchise, tries to convince audiences it’s a sociological allegory for violence and race in America this time around neatly tying in its plotline with the contentious 2016 US presidential election. But in trying to condemn violence while simultaneously featuring scenes of utter gore, anything important it had to say is lost in its own morbid fascination with blood and guts.
Then we had the Tom Hiddleston fronted dystopian drama High-Rise, based on the J.G. Ballard novel of the same name. Set in a luxury high-rise apartment block where residents are stacked according to social class and, the film convinces us it’s an exploration of society reverting to a primal state once its class structure is removed, yet its most memorable scenes involve rape and a barbecued dog. Even Seth Rogen’s animated, supermarket set smut-fest Sausage Party about a group of anthropomorphic foodstuff trying to uncover the meaning of their existence tries to include a vaguely religious allegory about the nature of belief systems. Which is kind of hard to take seriously considering the film ends in an extended and weirdly explicit orgy between its food characters.
These examples are by no means entirely awful films – they do what they say on the tin by offering a few laughs or satisfyingly gory scenes – but let’s not give them more intellectual credit than they deserve.