Await Further Instructions (2018)

In theaters: Await Further Instructions (2018)

Await Further Instructions (2018) is a post-Brexit horror film, the first one I’ve seen, if not the first one produced. It grapples with the divide between the young, diverse, self-involved, and urban and the ressentiment and revanchism of traditional, aging Britannia that has brought the birthplace of the English language to the brink of elective economic catastrophe. And that gave us Donald Trump.

Poster
Await Further Instructions (2018)
Await Further Instructions (2018)

It lays its share of the blame on the television and the willingness of the sedentary to believe everything it says, quite literally in the case of this particular parable. Long-absent son Nick (Sam Gittins), early twenties, who seems to have exiled himself from his stalwart, true-blue Church-of-England-believing, patriarchal and casually racist lower-middle-class but aspirational family for the crime of being too clever for them, unexpectedly comes home on Christmas Eve with his brown and overeducated girlfriend Annji (Neerja Naik). It goes about as well as it sounds like it will. Nick and Annji plan a Christmas-morning escape, only to discover that the entire house has been encased in industrial sheet metal (sort of) and that someone is broadcasting teletext messages such as, “All your food is contaminated. Eat nothing.” And, “One of your number is infected. Isolate them.” I wonder who Nick’s family will turn on first? (Hint: It’s Annji.) The Milgram-experiment horror continues through increasingly sadistic and paranoid instructions that Nick’s father (Grant Masters) dutifully carries out, bathed in the glow of his television set.

There are a few worthwhile things to look at, especially toward the end of the movie, when the plot takes an extreme hard fork into Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) territory after little in the way of warning. But director Johnny Kevorkian comes from the school that good acting and loud acting are one and the same. And all the screaming and fist-fighting going on never resolves any conflict between the characters, or even uses it to advance the story. Apparently there is no story to advance. Someone in the house can try to murder someone else, and by the next scene everybody has forgotten it. Talk about a post-truth world. It’s like the script itself is dysfunctional.

At one point during her forced quarantine, Annji suggests that Nick turn off the TV. I might suggest the same for this film.