Awaiting Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Bulldog Films
Written and directed by Mark Murphy
2015, 95 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on September 7th 2015
Rupert Hill as Jake
Tony Curran as Morris
Diana Vickers as Lauren
Peter Woodward as Jerry
It's the Diana Vickers horror movie! It's the Diana Vickers horror movie and I'm more excited about that than one might expect from your average horror fan. Diana Vickers, in fairness, being the most tolerable thing to ever come out of Simon Cowell's revolting X-Factor, possessing actual talent (no, really) and apparent acting ability. I sense I might be losing you here, but she certainly outshines her Coronation Street co-star Rupert Hill, emerging as one of the best things about Mark Murphy's Awaiting.
The other things being an entirely unexpected level of gore and the entirely expected awesomeness of Tony Curran as creepy dad Morris. The film itself is like a cross between Misery and The Loved Ones (there's even a bit of torture with a kettle full of hot water), although it does skew more towards the low-budget rip-off end of the spectrum than one might hope. Think the terrible Mischa Barton feature Homecoming, except more British and soap opera-esque.
Injured during a car crash in the middle of nowhere, hotshot city slicker Jake (the ex-Corrie star of the piece) is 'rescued' by grumpy dad Morris and brought back to his farmhouse, where sweet innocent daughter Lauren is (a)waiting. Morris doesn't exactly seem reasonable from the off, but his attitude only worsens as the awkward family Christmas progresses. Because oh yeah, it's Christmas during September, for some reason.
It takes a good while to get going, but once Murphy lets his horror freak flag fly, it becomes one of the better Brit horror films of recent years. Much of that is thanks to the unassuming opening and build-up; the soap opera feel (and actors) would never lead one to expect the film to reach some of the dark places it does. It's patently ridiculous – accompanied by an over-dramatic score straight out of The Descent – but that's all part of the film's surprising charm. Bad as Hill is, the level of abuse directed at the poor hapless sod means that we can't help but root for him even through the TV-level acting and terrible hair. There's also a level of schadenfreude to it too, with the rude, impatient and ungrateful snot hardly endearing himself to us or Morris throughout the first half. This isn't exactly Tony Curran stretching himself, but he lends the film the sense of authenticity and class it needs.
And of course there's Vickers, who handles herself well as the innocent idiot at the centre of it all. Sweet and likeable in spite of her giant Simon Cowell shaped baggage, it'll be interesting to see how her film career progresses after this. At the very least, she's doing better for herself than Jedward in Sharknado 3. Hell no, indeed.
Awaiting is one of the best horror surprises of the year. On paper, it really shouldn't work – and for a fair portion of its runtime, it actually doesn't – but it makes a fantastic about turn during the second half, packing in a truly shocking sequence of events. It remains cheap, silly nonsense, but there's something about the earnestness with which it commits itself that it's a hard film to dislike. Like its star, Awaiting is unassuming, unexpectedly good and, well, just a little bit adorable.
And yeah, Diana Vickers gets to sing over the end credits too.