Nick (Sam Gittens) takes his girlfriend Annji (Neerja Naik) to his family home for Christmas. With tension already existing between him and his family, things start to turn unpleasant fairly quickly with the family holding little regard for Annji’s feelings. The couple make a plan to leave in the night but as they try to go out the front door, they find that they’ve been barricaded in the house and there’s no way to escape. As Nick and Annji try to find their way out of the house, a strange message appears on the TV telling them to ‘stay indoors and await further instructions’. As paranoia sets in and the messages get increasing more alarming, the family begins to turn on each other.
Await Further Instructions was shown earlier this year at Arrow Video FrightFest where it received plenty of attention. With the Christmas theme prevalent, it makes sense for the film to be released a little wider in the bustling December month. The film outlines the dynamic of the family quickly in the first half an hour. Nick is upset, but not wholly surprised, when his family react negatively to his British-Indian girlfriend and each of them has their own issues. Patriarch Tony (Grant Masters) is controlling, mother Beth (Abigail Cruttenden) is weak and easily manipulated, sister Kate (Holly Weston) is heavily pregnant and incredibly selfish, and Grandad (David Bradley) is an unflinching racist.
The characters all adhere to very specific stereotypes, which lessens their impact a little but it does enough to set the film up for its sharp left turn. What starts out as a family drama soon turns into a nightmarish horror that is clearly influenced by the divide we’re seeing all over the world right now. Once the family realise they are stuck in the house, there’s much chatter of terrorists with the blame being wrongly shoved on Annji. Nick can’t bear the way his family are behaving and old tensions between him and his father soon flare up. With each chilling message on the TV screen, the paranoia escalates until things become violent and nasty.
The performances are a mixed bag. David Bradley is ever reliable but he doesn’t have a whole lot to do. Sam Gittins makes the best of his bland lead character but he lacks chemistry with Neerja Naik. Due to the way the characters are written, the actors don’t have too much to play with so they take their worst character trait and just ham it up. That makes for some repetitive scenes that quickly become tiresome for the viewer.
Await Further Instructions is a film that starts off well and it has a lot of promise. By the end though its potential is squandered and it turns into a more bog-standard horror. There’s a really interesting idea at the heart of the film, especially given the uncertain Brexit times we live in, but that’s never full realised or capitalised on. With independent film there are always limitations but this one could have overcome them by paying closer attention to its story and less time trying to scare the audience.
Cast: Sam Gittins, Neerja Naik, Abigail Cruttenden, David Bradley, Grant Masters, Holly Weston, Kris Saddler Director: Johnny Kevorkian Writer: Gavin Williams Certificate: 15 Duration: 91 mins Released by: Trinity Filmed Entertainment Release date: 7th December 2018 Buy Await Further Instructions