Director: Mark Murphy
Cast: Tony Curran, Diana Vickers, Rupert Hill
Watch Awaiting online in the UK: TalkTalk TV / iTunes / Virgin Movies / EE / TalkTalk / Eircom / Google Play r
There are a number of character actors whose mere presence in a prominent part can at least partially redeem even the direst material for the briefest of moments, or, preferably, elevate a bad movie to a status of passable entertainment. With Awaiting, the second feature by director Mark Murphy, Scottish actor Tony Curran’s swerve into hamming it up provides the briefest moments of redemption, but it’s sadly not enough to salvage a horror film where the only tension is in awaiting it ever getting good.
Curran plays Morris, a rather psychotic recluse who lives in a backwoods house with his young, seemingly innocent daughter, Lauren (pop star Diana Vickers, who never really gets across a sense of having almost no familiarity with the outside world). Morris seems to have a proclivity for picking up lost drivers for mysterious purposes (one is spoiled by the poster’s tagline). One night, he brings home Jake (Rupert Hill), who’s apparently crashed. Morris and Lauren nurse him back to health, and very quickly at that; within the film’s first 10 minutes, Jake is up and about again and has already rushed through a fair bit of exposition with Lauren.
Initially intrigued by the bare-bones setup of this strange family’s existence, an increasingly irate Jake, eager to get back to some very important plans, bemoans his seemingly stranded status, as Morris finds all sorts of excuses not to drive him into the nearest town or lend him a working phone. Far from thrilling or frightening, most of the 94 minutes is primarily Jake whining or being passive-aggressive, Morris and Lauren flirting with incest, and an irritating tendency of Murphy and editor Dragos Teglas to repeatedly cut to black within sequences as a very repetitive, droning score suffocates every scene. (One particularly egregious example comes in a chase scene where slow-mo running is interspersed with incessant flashes of black, making it look and play more like a video cut-scene or even a trailer).
There’s an attempt at making at least half the film very much a chamber piece, but those sorts of films really only work when the restrictive environment is intimidating or evocative itself, not looking like a sparsely decorated set for a soap opera. Rupert Hill’s days on Coronation Street a decade ago had him working with more unsettling decors than those found here. The arguments were more compelling, too.
After nearly an hour of mundane bickering, Murphy finally takes the film down a route that, while still not good, is at least a more enjoyable brand of bad. It delves into full-on grossness and there’s a fair bit of finesse to a few of the compositions (particularly one that recalls The Silence of the Lambs in a big way). Curran gets to embrace a more comedic mode, even offering up a couple of one-liners (“Are you still keeping an eye on me?” said to a supporting player whose eye he’s just gouged out.) It’s a silly, Grand Guignol climax, but it’s something with a bit of character, and it has the most memorably baffling use of an M83 song that has ever been and likely will ever be. That sequence sticks out as purely of this film alone. What precedes it is an awkward hodgepodge of Misery, We Are What We Are, The Loved Ones and Saw.