No water. No power. No explanation. No escape.
Containment is an independent horror/thriller and a debut feature film from London based director Neil McEnery-West. Its small cast really shines with the talent of great British actors Lee Ross, Sheila Reid and Louise Brealey to name but a few.
The plot is straightforward, Mike (Lee Ross), a failing artist, wakes up to what he believes to be a normal day in his cheap apartment, only to discover that he’s been sealed inside. Meanwhile, a mysterious team of Hazmat Officials enter the high rise opposite. Before Mark can wrap his head around what he has woken up into, his neighbour Sergei (Andrew Leung) comes crashing through the dividing wall with his younger brother Nicu (Gabriel Senior) unlocking strength in numbers once other neighbours; paranoid Aiden (William Postelthwaite) and nursing girlfriend Sally (Louise Brealey) and the loveable grandma figure Enid (Sheila Reid) all join the fray to join the desperate attempt at escaping the quarantined apartment block and discover why they’ve been contained with no explanation at all.
What really allows Containment to stand out from other film within this genre is screenwriter David Lemon’s ability to take clichés and spin them on their heads along with director Neil McEnery-West’s skill at creating captivating action, drip-feeding information to the audience at the same pace as to the characters on-screen. The audience is really kept on their toes as the story takes twists and turns as our rag-tag team of protagonists work together to figure out what on earth is going on.
McEnery-West’s choice to keep the majority of the action with the four walls of just a couple of rooms amplifies the sense of claustrophobia and isolation, putting the audience right into the position of Mark and his neighbours. To further increase the tension, there are calm shots placed in between scenes to show that life outside of this quarantined area still remains as normal whilst the horrors continue within the high rise.
Although Containment has an incredibly short running time for a feature length film at 77 minutes (which is my biggest grievance with the film), it still manages to develop a team of well fleshed out characters with distinct traits and personalities; a feat that a lot of bigger budget blockbusters fail to achieve, even with a much longer running time. Sheila Reid as Enid is our wonderful comic relief and is by far the best character in the film. She brings great humanity and realism to the story providing sensible decisions and witty remarks whilst also being a grandma figure to keep young Nicu calm and collected in amongst the surrounding horror.
A final touch which enables Containment to excel past its counterparts in the horror/thriller genre is its strong ending. It is ambiguous, yet it doesn’t leave the audience feeling as though they have been left short-changed; a feat that recent blockbuster sci-fi horror films fail miserably at.
McEnery-West has achieved a brilliant, tense and thrilling film on a small scale and budget with a fantastic cast of actors which bring realism to our heroes. This truly shows that originality along with a skilled cast can deliver an enthralling experience on an independent level that can match and surpass some of its blockbuster counterparts.
Containment is out in select UK Cinemas and Digital Platforms on September 11th 2015 and is available on DVD and Digital in the USA now.