Writer: Gavin Williams
Director: Johnny Kevorkian
Away for an unspecified amount of time, Nick (Sam Gittins) brings home his fiance’ Annji (Neerja Naik) to meet his family for the first time over Christmas dinner. A decision that inadvertently explains Nicks self-imposed absence, unveils his families racist attitudes (and painful ignorance) and ultimately risks lives as the night winds on. For when an unknown emergency shutters the doors and windows, a broadcast on the family television begins giving a series of orders that throws the already unstable household down a spiral of violence, hatred, torture and ultimately death, all under the watchful eye of an unknown presence.
“Await Further Instructions” is a 2018 Scifi-Horror entry that blends a psychological thriller with a claustrophobic nightmare scenario in order to create an enjoyable, well acted, and flowing story all despite, or maybe because of, it’s lower budget.
Lets cover this film step by step,
This is obviously where the majority of the budget for this movie went. The acting is deeply believable and blends moment to moment in an organic stepladder from the smaller wide eye glances invoked by Annji’s race, to more expressive examples of the character’s psychological breakdowns that strut across the third act. The characters are human in not only their strengths but in their flaws. The interactions among the family toward the perceived outsider in their midst feel natural, revealing no individual to be comically overblown, but each wretched in their own unique way, but mixing together in a stew of united, stomach-turning, humanity. But even with their most disgusting traits on display, no one characters is an island, displaying their bravado fully within the group environment but ultimately only expressing the inner self and growth when in the moments in which a few characters become isolated together. Events that do not seem overly expository due to the rather well constructed…
Working within the restraints of a single house, aside from a few outside establishing shots in the early moments of the film, the writers had a large hill to overcome. A hill that is inherent in all “Bottle episode” style movies. But here this is a problem overcome with such ease it becomes almost unnoticeable throughout, with only brief moments popping up when the viewers are suddenly reminded the entire movie has taken place within the walls of this one solitary home. Leading the audience through two distinct genre changes as the story progresses, the plot feels both overused and counter-intuitively new at the same time, an achievement that doesn’t lose its impact even within the final swirling moments of the end conclusion. The horror elements are built within the inner-workings of the plot and characters interactions, not relying on loud sound effects or jump scares, rather a well thought out and escalating tension peppered with moments that are so starkly uncinematic in design that the terror feels innate even when exposed to the major failing of the film…
Awaiting further instructions is, I must again remind the reader, a movie with a very low production budget. This in and of itself says nothing about a movies ultimate enjoyment value. Low budget productions fall on both sides of the good/bad spectrum with numerous examples of both types being readily available. The main reason this bears so much repeating here is that to put it simply, you are going to forget this for most of the film. The cast and story will envelop you with well written and engaging conversation and stumbling blocks while presenting you with fairly familiar faces lulling you into a feeling of an overall triple-A production. Making what should be one of the movies greatest strengths into a surprisingly obvious flaw when it finally rears its head in the third act. Awaiting Further Instructions uses entirely practical special effects. Every drop of blood or slime, every movement of the final antagonist, every sudden spark or slither is an onset effect made from real materials unblended with computer-aided graphics. And while I personally am an obsession-level fan of practical effects over CGI, I can’t help but ultimately feel this was a decision that transforms early film subtle effects from beautifully blended and real, into a sudden nightmarish 1970’s era stop-motion adventure in the stunning climax.
“Awaiting Further Instructions” is not an Oscar award-winning masterpiece of the ages. Its limitations show through it’s overstretched seams and it’s distinctly British angle towards racism and immigration will produce slang and concepts many American viewers may have to press pause and look up in order to understand the context of the conversation. However, what “Awaiting Further Instructions” is, is a well written, beautifully filmed and exceptionally well-acted movie that easily stands on its own and will inevitably find its way into the collections of many a fan or horror.