Await Further Instructions (2018) – Film Review
Director: Johnny Kevorkian
Cast: Grant Masters, Sam Gittins, Neerja Naik
by Roger Crow
One Christmas in the early 1980s, my dad took the plug off the TV so my brother and I wouldn’t spend the morning glued to it. Seemed harsh at the time, but I can see his point. It’s a time for family and not worshipping the one-eyed god in the corner of the room.
Funny how I’m reminded of that moment while watching one of the most unnerving films of the year. But first a little context. In 2015 I spent a few hours on the set of Await Further Instructions, a horror fantasy filmed in Bubwith with a largely unknown cast. Though I missed Game of Thrones’ David Bradley, I did have a good chat with Grant Masters, Holly Weston and Abigail Cruttenden. The latter rather aptly pops up in Lee Mack’s sitcom Not Going Out, the unofficial alternate title for writer Gavin Williams’ movie.
“Things turn sour”
During a return visit we chatted about the dark effects-driven climax and I was like a kid on Christmas morning in video village watching the magic being constructed next door. Rather aptly my second visit was on Hallowe’en 2015.
I was desperate to see how the movie turned out, and hoped by 2016 we’d see the result. It took longer than expected, but finally I get the chance – and it’s a mesmerising piece of work.
The plot is simple: a young white Brit and his Asian girlfriend head to his folks for Christmas. She has a bit of a cold. He has a racist granddad, an uptight father and a pregnant sister who’s home with her boyfriend. Together with their mum, they hope for the usual family festivities, but things turn sour and the visitors decide to head off early next morning. However, a mysterious black substance has surrounded the house and the TV warns them to ‘Stay Indoors and Await Further Instructions’.
Bearing in mind I’d wandered around the brilliantly crafted set, I find it hard to believe I wasn’t in a real house. When I was lucky enough to leave through the front door (not a luxury for the characters), it was a surreal experience being back in the film studio outside that domestic setting. And seeing how smoothly it cuts with the exterior shots is a tribute to the filmmakers. Yes, it’s obvious movie magic, but beautifully done.
So, what unfolds in the next 75 minutes or so when the premise is set up makes for extraordinary viewing. Dark, scary, weird, surreal and utterly compelling.
Memories of Videodrome, The Thing, the Tetuso movies, Demon Seed and the Hellraiser saga merge with Alan Ayckbourn’s Seasons Greetings. A great mix for any Brit horror.
Full marks to all the cast, especially Grant Masters, Sam Gittins and Neerja Naik for lending a necessary degree of gravitas. And kudos to the effects crew for that finale. Await Further Instructions is as special and weird as I’d hoped.
With great cinematography by Annika Summerson, a glorious score by Richard Wells, and excellent direction by Johnny Kevorkian, this is proof that a limited set, a great cast and a terrific script is worth more than a multi-million dollar budget, a dozen helicopters and hundreds of extras.
And thanks heavens, or hell, for that. Unlike my dad and our TV on that memorable Christmas morning, I’m more than happy to give it a plug.