We’re in the darkest bowels of East Yorkshire, with the plot concerning psychotic nut-case Morris, whose secret life of part-time kidnap and torture changes when his immature, gleefully oblivious daughter (Vickers) rescues one of his victims and befriends him. Said victim Jake (Hill), a thinly drawn big city businessman, desperately needs to return to civilisation to go and do his vague ‘business’. In a James Caan, Misery-like turn he soon realises that he is stranded, and his presence in the house gradually reveals the secrets of Morris’s dark heart.
It’s all very familiar, well worn ground. Curren and Hill do their best to treat the material earnestly, and Curren in particular commits to delivering a fairly nuanced performance rather than your usual raving loon. Hill is clearly an accomplished actor, but he plays the kind of pompous foppy jerk you can’t really root for, so I was immediately lacking a sense of empathy or sense of threat for his eventual fate. However, formulaic as Awaiting is, it’s absolutely watchable throughout, with a few factors that elevate the above the worst entries in the torture porn, madman in the woods type flick.
After a few days of reflection after seeing it, Diana Vickers is easily the most memorable character in Awaiting. That’s not too say that Vickers delivers a good performance. The gulf in ability between her and her two main co-stars is difficult to ignore and some of the lines delivered are cringingly bad. However, she gets all the best material and has an interesting character arc. She’s inherently likeable and is the easiest to root for as the most innocent person, and biggest victim in this Joseph Fritzl-lite situation.
There is a pretty astonishing bit of excessive gore in the last ten minutes as well as some cool practical effects, that make Awaiting a one-time worthwhile watch for the more hardened gore hounds. Awaiting is most effectively creepy (and bizarrely comical) when conversations are taking place between the three stars about Morris’ strange family rituals, especially the weird pseudo incestuous Christmas role-play they subject the kidnapped Jake to.
British horror movies like Kill List, Bait, The Descent, Eden Lake, Before Dawn and even the similarly themed Mum and Dad have proved over the last decade that British horror can be both shocking and thought provoking when the effort is made. Awaiting is an enjoyable division, but it doesn’t bring any new ideas to the table and doesn’t offer any hook to entice horror fans to watch it over several over similar movies. It’s a rough beginning for Diana Vickers as a feature film actress, but her natural charisma just about carries her through to the point where she may eventually be a credible scream queen should she stick with the genre. I just wished it had tried a little bit harder.
Review by Mark Bartlett
[SRA value=”3″ type=”BIG”]
Awaiting is out on DVD on 07 September.