Await Further Instructions is available to rent or buy now.
Christmas family get-togethers aren’t always full of hugs, peace and light. Instead, many family reunions are uncomfortable, confrontational, and filled with resentment and long-simmering disputes. Of course, this is not the case for every family, and looking back at my life, I give thanks for my loving family relationships. But, I also know others are not as lucky as me. This raises an important question, why do some families subject themselves to the forced Christmas reunion? After all, wouldn’t it be better to have a quick zoom call on Christmas Day, where the mute button is accessible, and people can hang up if things get sticky? In reality, for many families, conflict is not always associated with every family member, leading individuals to feel a sense of duty in supporting the ones they love, even if they struggle with others.
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This is the dilemma Nick (Sam Gittins) faces as he travels home for the holidays for the first time in many years alongside his British-Indian girlfriend Annji (Neerja Naik). Nick is far from convinced that the trip is a good idea; after all, many of his nearest and dearest hold blatantly racist views that they aren’t afraid to express. But Nick also feels a duty to support his downtrodden mum (Abigail Cruttenden). However, as Nick enters the house alongside Annji, he is immediately reminded of why he fled. After all, the family home is a toxic pit of uncomfortable conversations. But as the uncomfortable festivities begin, the atmosphere between his timid mum, controlling father, small-minded and heavily pregnant sister and conniving and racist granddad (David Bradley) is made worse by TV reports of a possible terrorist incident.
Nick’s family hide their intolerance and racism behind their apparent Christian morals and beliefs, with their far-right view of the world only fed by the media they consume. As they debate the possible terrorist attack, the family’s racism and hate come to the fore. However, when Nick and Annji try to escape the madness on Christmas morning, they find the house sealed by a strange impenetrable black mesh covering every window and door. Equally strange is the soft green glow of the TV as it broadcasts a simple message, ‘Await further Instructions‘.
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Director Johnny Kevorkian’s terrifying science fiction nightmare may start as a classic ‘meet the parents’ drama, but it soon morphs into a cutting exploration of intolerance, media and control. Here Kevorkian’s Twilight Zone-inspired slice of science fiction layers its narrative with human horror – weaving in themes of racism, BREXIT and religious intolerance as poor Annji meets the family from hell. We all know these families exist across England, their discrimination and hate justified through anti-European, anti-migrant and xenophobic political messages – and it’s here where the real horror lies.
While the resulting film may not always find the space and time to explore all the significant issues it raises, this is a minor weakness in the grand scale of things. As a whole, Await Further Instructions is a riveting, creative and inspired slice of festive science fiction horror. So if you are looking for something dark this Christmas, this devilishly tangled web of social horror is a must. Who knows, it may even persuade you to avoid the uncomfortable festive family reunion that always ends in tears.
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