As the camera drifts across a scorched desert it settles on a small oasis of green and a large glasshouse that is nestled among the lush vegetation. Housed within the glasshouse are a family of survivors in a world that has been all but lost to a major pandemic. Yes, Glasshouse is yet another pandemic movie… but this is one that’s definitely worth your time.
The family within the glasshouse consists of Mother (Adrienne Pearce), two older girls Bee (Jessica Alexander) and Evie (Anja Taljaard), younger girl Daisy (Kitty Harris) and boy Gabe (Brent Vermeulen). All wear floaty white linen dresses or shirts giving off a strong Victorian vibe against the backdrop of the Victorian glasshouse. The pandemic in question is known as The Shred, an airborne pathogen that gradually erases your memory the longer you are exposed to it. When we first meet Gabe he appears to be struggling with some kind of cognitive disability, which we later learn to be the tragic result of lengthy exposure. When the girls do venture outside to tend to the garden, they wear bonnets that have clear, protective polythene fronts in order to protect them from the contaminated air and have to pollinate the plants themselves due to the fact that there are no longer any bees.
Fertiliser for the gardens comes in the form of any unfortunate human survivor who happens to find his way onto their land and past the painted ‘No Trespassing’ sign, only to be gunned down by whichever of the girls is on watch duty at the time. The corpses are then ritualistically picked apart either to be eaten or buried among the fruit and vegetables as if it is the most natural thing in the world.
One day, when Bee is on trespasser watch, an injured stranger (Hilton Pelser) stumbles onto the land. Reminding Bee of their lost brother Luca, who left the glasshouse many years ago but never returned, Bee doesn’t shoot. Instead, the unconscious man is brought inside where his leg is stitched up and he is nursed back to health, all the while remaining chained to his bed for safety. When he does wake up, he becomes a source of new stories from the outside world for Daisy, while Mother is already thinking of another good use for him and Bee is wondering if he is in fact Luca after all, only her memory isn’t so good so she can’t be sure. The restraints do eventually come off though and the stranger begins learning their ways, helping out around the glasshouse and becoming increasingly interested in Bee.
As the story unfolds, we learn more about the “family” and their ways at the same time as the stranger does. There’s also an underlying sense that this stranger is only looking out for himself and what he can get out of the situation. A reminder of the harsh, brutal world that they now find themselves in. Not too dissimilar from the world we’ve been experiencing recently.
Glasshouse is the impressive feature debut of director and co-writer Kelsey Egan. Even though the story is confined to a single location, Egan, along with co-writer Emma Lungiswa De Wet have managed to craft a wonderfully simple yet devastating story about memory and loss that I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did.
Signature Entertainment presents Glasshouse on Digital Platforms 7th February
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Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.