Memory is a complex thing, and about two and a half years after the outbreak of the worldwide pandemic, many people struggle with what they remember, or with what some prefer to forget. Glasshouse, a film about a memory—infecting pandemic dubbed “shreds,” casts doubt on the importance of memory and its benefits for people when it becomes useless for the majority and valuable for very few. Accentuated by an ominous sweetness that seems rotten because of the botanical greenhouse in which it is installed, Glasshouse proves that restraint helps the apocalypse, and although the finale seems somewhat inevitable, there is still beauty in it.
Glasshouse follows three sisters —Evie (Anya Taljaard), Bee (Jessica Alexander) and Daisy (Kitty Harris), who live with their Mother (Adrienne Pierce) and their battered brother Gabe (Brent Vermeulen) in the titular house, safe from an airborne toxin that spoils people’s memories and turns them mindless predators. While awaiting the return of their brother Luke, who left them when he was still a teenager, the family tends their garden and kills anyone who approaches their sanctuary by eating the good parts and using the rest of their bodies as a warning against other intruders. When a wounded man (Hilton Pelser) arrives in their little Eden, their lives are thrown out of balance by a new addition, which, oddly enough, is not affected by the shreds. Could it be Luka finally returning to the shelter, or is it just a random stranger sent by the world to destroy the few pieces of the world they have created in their solitude?
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“Glasshouse” is primarily reminiscent of “The Deceived,” remade in 2017 by Sofia Coppola, but originally shown on screen by Clint Eastwood in 1971. in the Glasshouse, despite the flashing severed limbs and foot-long scars sewn with thread. This restraint gives way to quiet fear when a stranger appears and arouses the interest of the two older daughters. Director Kelsey Egan, who also co-wrote the script with Emma Lungiswa de Wet, uses this restraint to great effect when she outlines where the audience will spend the next hour and a half, the only green spot within a three-day walk according to the plan. a wounded stranger.
Although the premise itself may seem like an apocalyptic reworking of the aforementioned film, it is the pandemic that adds a new layer to what is happening. The issue of memory — its value in an era when it loses its grip and becomes currency in microcosmic societies like the sanctuary in the film — complicates the situation by separating the family when they need each other most. Like the film, memory now divides people. Who remembers what (and what value they attach to these memories) influences how people act in the world, just as a family does in a Glass House. The stakes are lower, but they are no less important. Memory becomes even more valuable when its use is reduced to six people, one of whom has already lost understanding of it.
The feeling of timelessness and refuge (in itself, this is a bubble created to burst) add a sluggishness to the film, which only emphasizes the constant displacement of the foundation of the family. A glass house can lead to a climax that many can foresee, but that’s beside the point. The conclusion plays up what came before it, feeling like a memory that could be easily forgotten. A certain stability is once again achieved, but the price of this is clear. Some things are worth forgetting when trying to build a new world. New memories replace old ones, making the past less meaningful. Whether this is a solid foundation on which to build the future is a question that the film makes you think about, which resonates beyond the sanctuary in the Glass House and penetrates into the collective idea of memory.