I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
In a residential tower block in an unnamed English town, artist Mark (Lee Ross: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) wakes up one morning to discover that there’s no water, no power, no phones… and that the front door to his apartment and all the windows have been sealed shut. And he’s not alone in this confinement: he can see, across the courtyard, other people in another building banging on their windows. Down below, outside? An army of people in orange hazmat suits, setting up what looks like a field hospital.
In his first film, writer-director Neil Mcenery-West — who cowrote the script with David Lemon, in Lemon’s second outing as screenwriter — combines the outbreak thriller with a “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” paranoia as Mark and his neighbors bust into one another’s flats by banging through the walls and band together to figure out what is going on and how they can save themselves from it. But how far can they trust one another when their very survival is on the line, particularly when they’ve all been studiously ignoring their neighbors up till now?
There’s nothing groundbreaking or even especially surprising in how things play out, but Mcenery-West has a nice sense of style, making excellent use of his claustrophobic setting and demonstrating the suspense that can be generated in a limited location on a small budget. And the cast — which also includes Sherlock’s Louise Brealey, the intriguing up-and-comer Andrew Leung (Lilting), William Postlethwaite (Pete’s son), and grand dame Sheila Reid (Doctor Who) — is exceptional. I look forward to Mcenery-West’s next film, in which I hope he’ll have something more original to say.