Usually the result of some cataclysmic event, dystopian worlds provide audiences with an uneasy glimpse into a ‘what-if?’ future scenario.
The newest film to branch into this unappealing future is Brick Mansions (out in cinemas May 2nd), which delves into a future Detroit, specifically an undesirable neighbourhood that has both a containment wall and a crime lord to control the citizens.
Here are other dystopian films that made us really glad we’re still in the 21st century.
Hunger Games (2012) dir. Gary Ross
The franchise that brought dystopian to the youth, The Hunger Games opened up the doors to a whole new generation of dystopian films (Divergent, The Mortal Instruments, etc.). Set in the vacuous world of Panem where the working-class-equivalent in the 12 districts volunteer their offspring to fight to the death, providing entertainment to the Capitol and food for their district. It’s a brutal storyline but broken up well with colourful characters from Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci.
District B13 (2004) dir. Pierre Morel
Set in the Paris ghettos of futuristic 2010 (the film was released in 2004), Banlieue 13 (District 13) is the worst ghetto of the bunch. Having failed to control the two million population, the authorities have contained the area with a high barbed wire wall, leaving the inhabitants without education or any police protection – because that is always the best solution, right? David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli work together to bring down the crime lord and stop a bomb that is set to detonate within 24 hours.
28 Weeks Later (2007) dir. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
The sequel to 28 Days Later, this time with director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo at the helm. Set 6 months (or 28 Weeks) later, order has begun to be restored in London, thanks to the U.S army, obviously. But of course this is a film and that would make for a very boring hour and a half if that was really what had happened. In a nutshell, Robert Carlyle manages to ruin everything for everyone and all hell breaks loose.
Battle Royale (2000) dir. Kinji Fukasaku
The original movie about a murder game show for kids, critics have, not unfairly, drawn parallels between Japanese film Battle Royale and The Hunger Games. However, with the former having an 18 rating against the teen-flick’s 12, the noticeable difference rests with the violent content. Battle Royale is an annual contest that takes place due to the BR Act, passed as a punishment for a mass student walk out. Battle Royale is a really extreme hypothetical worst-case-scenario for the future, based on what would happen if the youth of a generation got really out of hand. It’s terrifying but must-see viewing.
A Clockwork Orange (1971) dir. Stanley Kubrick
One of the originals. Whilst in prison, the vile Alex, played by Malcolm McDowell, volunteers for the Ludovico Technique, in order to escape incarceration. Consequently, the results of this go awry, driving Alex to attempt suicide. Clockwork Orange is uncomfortable viewing and so we can sort of understand how Alex feels when forced to watch horrific violence, but, 42 years later, Clockwork Orange still stands as an important statement of the consequences of our actions.
Never Let Me Go (2010) dir. Mark Romanek
The beautiful but bleak Never Let Me Go focuses on the seemingly idyllic boarding school, Hailsham. As the film progresses, however, we realise all is not as it seems, of course. Thanks to a medical breakthrough, the human lifespan can be extended by 100 years, but it is all dependent on transplants provided by the boarding school pupils whose sole purpose is to exist for organ donations. It’s achingly sad but provided standout performances from Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley.
The Road (2009) dir. John Hillcoat
Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, The Road is everyone’s post-apocalyptic nightmare – nowhere is safe and you trust no one. Focusing on only two characters, a father and son are making their way through an apocalypse-ravaged America, heading south to what they hope is a safer place. If you fancy a film that leaves you completely distrustful of humanity, this is the one.
Brick Mansions (2014) dir. Camille Delamarre
A modern remake of District B13, dystopian Detroit is in turmoil, with the most dangerous criminals housed in abandoned brick mansions that are within a containment wall, with no means of escape and no support. Brick Mansions stars Paul Walker and David Belle and is released 2nd May.