The holidays are always a stressful time. Finding that perfect gift for a loved one, battling the droves of people that are all after the same thing, the weather, traveling, cooking. The list could just go on and on. Add a family gathering into the mix, and well…let’s just leave it at that. This is where we are with AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS, a new Christmas horror film that captures that awkward holiday family event all too well.
AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS, the latest from Dark Sky Films, introduces us to Nick (Sam Gittins – EastEnders TV series) and Annji (Neerja Naik), a young couple on their way to visit Nick’s family for Christmas. Judging by the look on Nick’s face, and his hesitation to go in while begging Annji to turn back, things are intense with his family. This is quickly confirmed after meeting the family patriarch, Tony (Grant Masters – Doctors TV Series) and Grandad (David Bradley – the Harry Potter series). “So your phone wasn’t working all last year then? Or the last three years in fact?” growls Tony, in between grumbles from Grandad and gushes from his mother, Beth (Abigail Cruttenden) “They’re here now, that’s what counts.” Soon after their arrival, pregnant sister Kate (Holly Weston) and her boyfriend, Scott (Kris Sadler) make their entrance, thus adding to the uncomfortableness in the room.
It becomes apparent they don’t mind bringing Annji into their arguments, and before long, there is a blow-out, resulting in everyone retiring for the night. Nick and Annji decide to make their exit in the middle of the night, but are stopped in their tracks when they discover the house has been encased in an impenetrable black material that could be metal, could be a bio-hazard, yet no one knows. “Could it be a reality show? Some kind of awful game?’ is asked, as the rest of the family gathers in the living room, having been awoken by Nick’s attempts to pierce the substance. The TV glows with the message ‘Stay Inside. Await Further Instructions.’ What happens after, through the course of Christmas Day, includes vaccination kits, inanimate objects with a heartbeat, poisonous gas, and everyone turning against each other and trusting no one. Everyone is at risk and nobody is safe from demise, as the true intent is finally revealed in a shocking, and disturbing chain of events that all come to a head in one of the most horrific, and frightening climaxes, I have seen in a long time.
AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS, directed by Johnny Kevorkian (The Disappeared), and written by Gavin Williams, is a horror/sci-fi flick that kept my attention almost from the get-go. It didn’t take long for the action to start, and the story is so unique that it kept my attention. The dark and ominous cinematography by Annika Summerson is like another character as it adds to the creepiness of the film. Even with it taking place on Christmas, there really isn’t that much to feel jolly about as the family is divided several times, with each member rebelling against the next, which isn’t a very good survival method. It’s obvious the family is angry at something, but that is never quite developed. That could be the reason for the lack of any other emotions. Regardless, that part isn’t that important to the story and doesn’t really take away from it. All-in-all, AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS is an enjoyable, suspenseful and intense film that I highly recommend. Be sure to check it out when it’s released on Blu-ray December 11.