It took longer than expected to get locked into the tone of Await Further Instructions. Its almost eerily clean aesthetic and melodramatic characters left me rolling my eyes more than once; preying for a sudden shift that would pull me in and demand my attention. That didn’t happen. Instead, as the plot slowly unraveled, I found myself beginning to understand that my expectations were all wrong.
Regardless of the heavy-handed subject matter of the film’s opening, Await Further Instructions is best enjoyed if you don’t take it too seriously. It’s a film that breaks free from the ham-fisted social commentary that we’ve almost come to expect in modern genre films (though there’s still some of that too) and delivers a delicious slice of Horror/Scifi that’s enigmatic, entertaining, and pure midnight madness.
It follows a young couple that visits the boyfriend’s absurdly dysfunctional family on Christmas eve. The Mom is an emotional wreck, the Dad is an asshole workaholic, the Grandfather is a miserable instigator, the sister is a pregnant racist, and her husband is an impressionable sheep. It’s quite the motley crew. In fact The visiting couple of Nick and Annji are the only two that seem to have a level head about them. As a result, the two decide to leave early on Christmas morning before the rest of the family wakes. It’s at that moment that they realize the entire home has been surrounded by a strange black substance. There is no escape, and the television has a strange static message that reads nothing more than: “await further instructions”. It’s a really cool concept.
The majority of the film plays out as a mystery. Is the substance supernatural? Aliens? A government quarantine? A terrorist attack? You never really know, and as the message on the television begins instructing the family to conduct various acts, tensions rise to a fever pitch. But what Await Further Instructions accomplishes perhaps most successfully is its ability to tell this bleak tale with a sense of British charm that you might not otherwise expect. Once the violence kicks off, the practical FX are a bit goofy at first due to seldomly being called upon, but as the film reaches its jaw-dropping climax, they’re the star of the show. There have been comparisons to John Carpenter’s The Thing, and while I don’t feel the quality is quite on par, the comparison is justified.
Aside from one particular plot line that doesn’t pan out to be as cool as I’d hoped, Await Further Instructions is a hell of a ride. The performances are on point, the concept is super cool, and the FX push the boundaries of what’s possible with a minuscule budget. Milage will vary, but this is what indie Horror is all about. Recommended for a watch with beer and popcorn amongst friends.
Await Further Instructions screened at the 2018 Cinepocalypse in Chicago, IL. We’ll update when a release date is confirmed.
‘Await Further Instructions’ is Pure Midnight Madness [Cinepocalypse 2018]