The feature film debut from director Neil McEnery-West proves to be a tense, claustrophobic thriller.
Set in an alternative present day England, Containment finds struggling artist Mark waking up to find the doors and windows to his high rise flat sealed shut. Cut off from his estranged wife and his son, things go from bad to worse as Mark notices a group of people in hazmat suits patrolling the grounds of the block of flats and cordoning off the entire area. A group of neighbours eventually finds a way to reach Mark and together they begin to untangle the mystery of what exactly is happening to them and the harsh reality of the danger they face.
The small group is made up of Mark, his retired pensioner neighbour Enid (a seemingly bigoted and old fashioned lady who’s strong performance adds humour and light relief to proceedings), a young nerdy conspiracy theorist, his kind hearted girlfriend, an adventurous but mute boy and his older brother Sergei who has severe anger issues. As tempers fray and personalities clash, the group struggles to find common ground and agree on what to do to survive.
What follows is a gripping exploration of how people from different backgrounds cope in a crisis situation. Scenes where we watch events happening outside from the flat windows, such as other residents silently trapped inside their rooms or trying to make a run for it outside take influence from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and the same sense of voyeurism hooks the viewer into the action as the players panic to find their way out of the trap they’ve found themselves in and deal with the ever present fear of the unknown.
The acting is solid throughout, although the portrayal of Sergei’s constant anger seems a little over the top. It makes sense for him to act this way as he’s meant to be a kind of in-house antagonist, but it would have been nice to have a little more light to balance out his darkness and make him a more well-rounded character. However, the film is enjoyably gripping and as we watch society slowly crumbling and Mark struggling to maintain his moral decency, the drama builds to a poignant and thrilling climax.
4 / 5
CONTAINMENT is directed by Neil McEnery and stars Lee Ross, Sheila Reid, Andrew Leung, Gabriel Senior, William Postlethwaite, Louise Brealey and Pippa Nixon. It is now playing in select theaters in the UK.
Categories: British Horror