Estranged from his family and forced to live in a grotty tower block on a crumbling estate, struggling artist Mark (Lee Ross) is having a bad day.

His alarm doesn’t go off. The power is out. The milk’s gone off. There’s no water. He’s got to be in court for a custody hearing and someone has glued shut his door, sealing him in his flat. He can’t get a signal on his mobile. Then his neighbours knock a hole in his wall looking for a means of escape as sinister, military figures in HAZMAT suits start rounding up the residents of the estate, dragging them to a makeshift treatment tent outside while a voice on the intercom assures them there’s no cause for alarm.

With paranoia and mistrust mounting and snipers picking off escapees, rioting breaks out and the army starts gassing the other tower blocks on the estate. If Mark and his neighbours are going to survive, they’re going to have set aside their differences and work together.

There’s echoes of Xavier Gens’ cruel, brilliant The Divide and Chris Gorak’s Right At Your Door about Neil McEnery-West’s low-key, claustrophobic survival horror Containment. But where The Divide and Right At Your Door both played on our post-9/11, post-millennial apocalyptic fears of terrorism and impotence in the face of disaster, Containment’s sights are perhaps a little lower, McEnery-West’s cross-section of Dishface’s Broken Britain buckling and squabbling in the face of insidious disease and a cack-handed government response, destroying themselves in the progress.

Containment offers few surprises, you have quite literally seen it all before, and while the script is almost a checklist of clichés and the characters a cast of the usual suspects, McEnery-West, aided by a cracking cast, a nippy running time that never allows you the chance to pick holes in the plot and a tiny budget that keeps the action confined, grows the tension steadily, suffusing the film with a growing sense of dread, building character through detail. There’s an obvious reason why two Eastern European refugees, one rendered mute by his experiences, would live in a flat that’s a virtual fortress full of stockpiled food and bottled water and have a violent mistrust of authority. McEnery-West is a smart enough filmmaker not to make it obvious, to let the audience do the work.

While there’s a few too many shots of trapped insects behind glass and Ross’ failed father’s redemptive arc is a bit too obvious as he bonds with mute Eastern European orphan Nicu (Gabriel Senior) and quaintly bigoted pensioner Enid (Sheila Reid), forming a surrogate family to replace the one he’s lost, McEnery-West never allows sentiment to swamp the film, keeping the audience as bewildered as his characters.

Taut, tense and focussed, Containment is an effectively bleak little chiller.

 

Movie Review: Containment
3.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

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