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Await Further Instructions (Movie Review)

Await Further Instructions (Movie Review)
7 10

PLOT: A family's unpleasant Christmas gathering gets even worse when they find something has trapped them inside the house.

REVIEW: I can never watch any movie that's about a group of characters fighting among themselves while trapped in one location without thinking of George A. Romero's 1968 classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and it didn't take long for that film to pop into my head while watching director Johnny Kevorkian's AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS. Scripted by Gavin Williams, the film is about a rather awful family that has gathered together to celebrate the Christmas holiday. The squabbling starts right away, but the characters' distaste for each other takes on a darker, more dangerous tone when they find that all of the doors and windows have somehow been blocked by a metallic substance that makes leaving the house impossible.

The characters we follow into this mess are Nick (Sam Gittins) and his girlfriend Annji (Neerja Naik). Nick is concerned that his family is going to be too racist to accept Annji, since they're white and she is of Indian descent, and he's right to be concerned. His family, especially his sister Kate (Holly Weston) and their nasty old Grandad (David Bradley), handle the presence of Annji terribly, so much so that Nick and Annji are ready to give up on this get-together, go home and spend Christmas eating pizza and watching Doctor Who. Which sounds like a perfectly fine way to spend the holiday to me. Unfortunately, when they're opening the door to leave is when they discover all the exits are blocked.

From that point on, the audience is left to be appalled, as Nick and Annji are, by the way Nick's family handles this situation. While Grandad is antagonistic, you've got Nick's father Tony (Grant Masters) trying to prove he can take control and get everyone through this safely, Nick's brother-in-law Scott (Kris Saddler) acting like Tony's lackey, the pregnant Kate encouraging the machismo, and mom Beth (Abigail Cruttenden) just going along with everything her husband says. And of course, the people who take control are hot-headed idiots who have no time for logical, rational suggestions. 

Await Further Instructions Johnny Kevorkian

There's a line in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD that has always made the audience laugh whenever I've seen it with a crowd. When asked if the course of action they're taking is the right one, a character says, "The television said that's the right thing to do." It's funny to hear someone say they're taking advice from the TV - but in an emergency situation, that's what people are mostly likely to do. That's certainly what Nick's family does. As soon as he sees the metal, Nick's father assumes that the government has put them under quarantine to protect them after a terrorist attack, and the others immediately accept that as the answer to the question of what's happening here. Then they see a message appear on the TV in green text: "Stay indoors and await further instructions." Well, they have no choice but to stay indoors, but those instructions they await eagerly, and when they arrive they carry them out, no matter what they are. These people give themselves over to the TV completely.

Watching this group fight with each other, turn against the most sensible people among them, and make idiotic decisions just because words on a TV told them to, I went beyond not caring if they got injuried and started actively rooting for most of them to get hurt or die. They are a very aggravating bunch, and I wanted to see bad things happen to them.

Most of the characters are morons, but that's not a strike against the film or Williams' script. The movie is effective because these people are maddening, it's emotionally involving (the primary emotion being anger) because they're such mindless sheep, and the actors do a great job of making their characters disgusting. I got wrapped up in what was going on.

Now, my distaste for the characters will have an effect on the film's rewatchabilty, as these aren't people I'll want to come back and spend more time with in the future. But for this initial viewing, AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS made for an engrossing, enraging viewing experience, and I was delighted to see it get stranger and stranger as it went along. I'm not going to want to watch this movie a bunch of times, but it was absolutely worth watching.

Dark Sky Films is releasing AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS on VOD and into select theatres on October 5th.

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