Director: Mark Murphy
Cast: Tony Curran, Diana Vickers, Rupert Hill
Running Time: 95 minutes
If a horror movie is only as good as its villain, then AWAITING must be a pretty damn good horror movie.
With barely restrained menace, Tony Curran plays Morris. I think we can safely call Morris a devoted father. And a clinically insane maniac.
Morris runs a tow truck out on the moors, where cell reception is weak and a lot of cars and their drivers come up missing.
The film opens on one such accident. But before we can find out just how Morris executes his tow truck driving duties, his lovely, lonely daughter Lauren (Diana Vickers) spies Daddy, the car, and the unconscious driver – a slick businessman named Jake (Rupert Hill).
Can we keep him?
What follows is a bizarre nightmare that develops tension and unseemliness in equal measure. Vickers walks a line between innocent and tainted that keeps the film feeing forever off kilter. Hill is a bit weaker, especially in the early scenes, but he makes up for it in a climactic act that will have you squirming in your seat.
While this trio dominates 90% of the film, there are a couple of other memorable if brief performances, particularly from veteran character actor Peter Woodward.
Writer/director Mark Murphy never stoops to jump scares, preferring to peel back layer after layer of fleshy insanity. Every few minutes he introduces yet another grisly piece of information, eventually eliciting a kind of “oh, we’re going there?” response.
In truth, it gets to the point of near derailment, and the gradually increasing lunacy would have gone off the rails were it not for the controlled volcano of Curran’s performance. His contempt seething just an inch below the surface, Morris is effortlessly terrifying. It’s an impressive turn because the character could easily have become a backwoods caricature, but Curran develops something with enough layers to match the escalating horror.
There are some hiccups and some flat spots, especially in the first act. Still, Murphy begins with claustrophobic dread, then builds to something more disturbing before landing someplace full-on batshit insane, but he doesn’t ever lose sight of character arc or narrative thread. In its own intensely weird way, AWAITING makes sense. How disturbing is that?