Directors: Ben Wheatley


BIOGRAPHY (from Wikipedia)

Ben Wheatley (born 1972) is an English director of feature films, TV comedy shows, adverts and idents, animated shorts and internet ads.

Initially a short film maker and animator, Wheatley moved his work to the internet where his clip “cunning stunt” which shows his friend Rob Hill jumping over a car has had over 10 million views. The hundred or so short animations and games found on the “Mr and Mrs Wheatley” site were noticed by large media companies and Wheatley’s work expanded into mainstream media.

In May 2009 he directed the feature film Down Terrace in eight days; it won the Next Wave prize at Fantastic Fest and Best UK Feature at Raindance. In 2010 Wheatley completed his second feature, Kill List. Wheatley’s third film was the black comedy Sightseers, released in the UK in November 2012. It was written by its stars, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, with additional material by Amy Jump, and was chosen for the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Wheatley’s fourth film, A Field in England was financed through the Film4 talent and ideas hub, Film4.0. It was followed in 2016 by High Rise, an adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel of the same name.

In 2014, Wheatley directed the first two episodes of the eighth series of Doctor Who, a show he has been a fan of since childhood.

Wheatley wrote and directed Free Fire starring an ensemble cast including Cilian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley. His film Happy New Year, Colin Burstead was made for the BBC 2018 Christmas schedule and in November 2018, Wheatley was announced as the director of a new adaption of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic romance novel Rebecca.

In April 2019, Wheatley’s wife Amy Jump was hired to write a script for a possible sequel to the Tomb Raider reboot starring Alicia Vikander, with Ben Wheatley signing on as director in the September. The film has a planned release date of March 2021.


DIRECTOGRAPHY

2009 – Down Terrace

2011 – Kill List

2012 – Sightseers

2012 – U is for Unearthed (short)

2013 – A Field in England

2015 – High Rise

2016 – Free Fire

2019 – Happy New Year Colin Burstead


Reviews

PosterMovieYearCommentsRatingReviewer
Down Terrace 2009 A family relatonship drama with a difference, told through great character development and minimal plot. 3.5 Gordon
Kill List 2011 A film of two halves, but I'd have preferred less of the gritty crime of the first half and more of the pagan horror of the second, which ends just as it is getting interesting. The result is a well made but uneven film that isn't much fun to watch. 3 Mat
Kill List 2011 A 720 degree headfuck. Could be genius or could be madness. I have no idea which, but I liked it! 3.5 Gordon
Sightseers 2012 A dark, funny and surprising film with some amazing scenery and top notch performances. 4 Gordon
Sightseers 2012 Farcical comedy and shocking violence sit side by side in this bizarre road movie, which also has some touching moments in a story that is quintessentially British. As enjoyable as it is disturbing, with a great performance from Alice Lowe at its heart. 3.5 Mat
U is for Unearthed 2012 This first-person horror short was part of the ABCs of Death anthology and has all of Wheatley's trademarks; fear, violence and vengeance. The film is available on Youtube. 3.5 Gordon
A Field in England 2013 Some arty scenes made me want to dislike the film but somehow I couldn't. The black and white cinematography was unnecessary, but the dialogue and drama were superb. 4 Gordon
Free Fire 2016 I'm not fully convinced that the characters are strong enough to carry the single-location setting, but the dialogue is very good and the cinematography and costumes recreate the 70s crime movie vibe to perfection. 3.5 Mat
Free Fire 2016 As chaotic as it is magnificent, Free Fire is a typical Ben Whreatley dark comedy masquerading as a big budget gangster film. More fun than people getting shot in the legs really should be. 4 Gordon
High-Rise 2016 Style over sense that suggests that Ballard's book should be left alone by the movie industry. 2.5 Gordon
Happy New Year Colin Burstead 2018 Colin brings his family to a stately house for a New Year's Eve to forget. Ben Wheatley's least subversive film always feels like something is missing and despite the clever dialogue, by the end you are left wondering what the point was. 3 Gordon

The Verdict

  • Down Terrace
  • Kill List
  • Sightseers
  • U is for Unearthed (short)
  • A Field in England
  • High Rise
  • Free Fire
  • Happy New Year Colin Burstead
3.4

Summary

Rightly being heralded as one of the new generation of great British directors, Wheatley has far more good output than bad. In fact, only the film of the unfilmable book (JG Ballard’s Hi-Rise) scores as low as ‘average’.

As his stock has risen, Ben Wheatley has started to branch out into bigger budget movies, but his best work by far comes from his low budget, distinctly British black comedies.

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DIRECTORS LEAGUE

This page will be updated as we watch more Ben Wheatley films and therefore his overall rating will change over time. You can see where Ben sits in the Directors League here.

 

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