AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS **** UK 2018 Dir: Johnny Kervorkian. 91 mins
A decade after his elegiac Elephant & Castle council estate ghost story THE DISAPPEARED, director Johnny Kervorkian makes a welcome return with an apocalyptic horror film doubling as a suitably uncomfortable portrait of a typical British Christmas.
While the rolling TV news reports on power surges and suspected terror attacks, estranged grown up son Sam Gittins returns home for festivities with a new girlfriend in tow (Neerja Naik) and then watches existing family grudges and tensions violently escalating when the whole house is inexplicably encased in impenetrable metal shutters. All TV channels default to the ominous message “Stay indoors and await further instructions…” What follows is an unnerving, brilliantly observed microcosm of British middle class society rapidly collapsing from the amplification of long-held hang-ups and inherent racism: Dad (Grant Masters) seizes the chance to display the office manager skills mocked by his immigrant-hating father (David Bradley), Mum descends into a slightly hysterical rendition of “Ding Dong Merrily On High” and Gittins’ pregnant sister unsubtly blames Muslims. Characters talk fondly of a fictional past when Britain was great and idyllic past family Christmases where the memories stretch little further than Christmas DR. WHO. The perfect one-location sci-fi-tinged chiller for our paranoid, politically unstable, ecologically doomed times, this bleak study of the fragility of humankind has its roots in the extra-terrestrial “test” at the heart of a stand-out TWILIGHT ZONE episode (“The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”), while the house enveloped by inescapable walls offers a visual echo of a memorable episode of HAMMER HOUSE OF MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE (“Child’s Play”), which had a vastly different final twist. This film’s disquieting reveal involves impressive physical and CGI FX, a Christmas birth and a marvellous final shot of a radically altered suburbia.
Review by Steven West