Review: AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS (2018)
The family getting together for the holidays, with all its awkwardness and hostility. This has been the jumping-off point for many films from many genres. In AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS, writer Gavin Williams and director Johnny Kevorkian (THE DISAPPEARED) take the setting from a domestic drama to a paranoid thriller into full-out horror with stunning results.
Nick (Sam Gittins HOWL) has avoided holidays with the family for the past three years. This year, at the urging of his girlfriend Annji (Neerja Naik) he accepts their invitation. Things go badly from the start.
Granddad (David Bradley GAME OF THRONES, THE WORLD’S END) is an open and proud racist who makes his opinion of mixed-race couples, (and non-whites such as Annji in general), clear. Pregnant sister Kate (Holly Weston HOWL), and her big, stupid husband (Kris Sadler) at least veil their bigotry, at first. His mother (Abigail Cruttenden) is welcoming, but his father, Tony (Grant Masters, WOLF GARDEN), has to temper his welcome with guilt-tripping over his absence in previous years. Quickly realizing their mistake, they plan to leave in the morning.
However come morning they find the house surrounded by a strange metallic substance. Phone and internet connections are down, and the TV shows the message “Stay inside and await further instructions”. Those instructions will soon be forthcoming, each set more drastic and divisive than the last.
AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS takes influences that range from the 1950s cult film THE TWONKY right up to BLACK MIRROR and creates a compelling tale of just how technology influences and manipulates us. The messages never claim to be from the government, and they look like something from a first-generation video game. But the family, (whose last name Milgram can’t be a coincidence), obey them. As if sensing this response, the instructions continually isolate Nick and Annji, the only two with the sense to question what’s going on.
Framing the suspicion in terms of terrorism and racism lets the film tap into what we see daily in the news. After all, what else could this be but some bizarre terrorist attack? And Annji must be one of “them” which makes Nick equally guilty. Sounds like what you would see in just about any political thread on Facebook, doesn’t it?
The final act may throw some people as the messages become religious in nature and the film unleashes the overt horror. Kevorkian manages to come up with some disturbing images as he pits the final survivors against each other and the source of their predicament. It’s a very abrupt change in both tone and pace, but it delivers the payoff the film needs.
A mix of genres that delivers a timely message while being entertaining rather than preachy, AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS is one of the better films to come out this year.
Dark Sky Films will release AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS in theatres and on VOD on October 5th