Main cast: Sam Gittins (Nick Milgram), Neerja Naik (Annji), Grant Masters (Tony Milgram), Abigail Cruttenden (Beth Milgram), Kris Saddler (Scott Milgram), Holly Weston (Kate Milgram), and David Bradley (Gramps)
Director: Johnny Kevorkian
Upon her insistence, Nick brings his girlfriend Annji to visit his estranged family for Christmas and it’s a bad mistake for many reasons. One, the entire family is dysfunctional – father Tony thinks that Nick is useless, Tony’s father thinks that he is useless – and there is a thinly veiled kind of dislike aimed at Annji because of her race. Two, the family isn’t aware of Nick’s arrival, so there is a chill all around among all family members. Three, the whole family wake up the following morning to find that the entire house is sealed in by a mysterious black substance, with only a narrow gap through a black “wall” being their only means of physical contact to the outside world. Their television gets hijacked by whichever entity behind this development, with the family given mysterious instructions that become increasingly tyrannical and even sadistic as time goes by.
Tony becomes increasingly monstrous as their imprisonment continues, as he is determined to prove his own father wrong by being an alpha male in the worst ways possible, while his wife Beth begins to lose her mind. The rest of the family becomes monsters in their own right, leaving poor Nick as the sole sane family member trying to protect Annji from the brunt of his family’s mounting paranoia and violent intentions.
Await Further Instructions starts out intriguing, as suspense mounts and tensions rise. However, things escalate to become increasingly absurd as the movie progresses, all the way to the revelation that has me rolling up my eyes. The cast is fine, but they don’t have much to work on as the movie soon degenerates into a showcase of how over the top Tony can get as time goes by. The ending scene is especially unintentional hilarious. Not to spoil anything, but I don’t think babies can read. Just saying.
Ultimately, the agenda of this movie becomes clear once I reach the ending. This is a movie that tries very hard to be a metaphor for our mindless consumption of news on TV without questioning the veracity of the information we are bombarded with. As Tony and his idiot family prove, doing so will lead us to a bad end. Sure, yes, mainstream media is becoming more and more of a propaganda machine these days, with facts being twisted and even covered up just to frame a specific narrative. All this is done solely to make the mainstream media the center of our lives, so that we continue to consume their products and shower them with unwarranted devotion. It’s all about them holding power over us.
The thing is, people don’t really watch TV these days if the ratings are anything to go by. Hence, this movie is obsolete by about twenty years already. If the movie had featured a cell phone instead of the TV as a stand-in for harmful fake and misleading news, then it wouldn’t have dated itself so obviously.
Still, this one is a pretty decent movie with some decent tension and suspense. Things fall apart more and more as it trundles on like a drunken clown towards its ridiculous denouement, but still, I suppose one can do worse on lazy days.