Director Neil West Starring Lee Ross, Sheila Reid, Gabriel Senior, Andrew Leung, William Postlethwaite, Louise Brealey, Pippa Nixon
Apologies for the absence as of late but I’m making it up to you in the form of another indie film I’ve been courted to review. I was under the impression that this time around things would be easier, but how foolish am I? I’ve encountered the same issue that’s caused a fair amount of my recent under-productivity: the inability to find anything to talk about…
… And it’s continuing into this paragraph too, so I’m thinking a by-the-numbers look is the way to go. Containment is a gem from writer David Lemon and director Neil West that uses the stock-standard virus vs. humanity storyline to great effect. What was most interesting was the absence of any melodramatic sci-fi elements regarding the nature of this fast-spreading disease; it just kills you in no time flat. It’s often overlooked in favour of something that’s more outlandish in order to sell the film, but here it’s the strongest plot device.
With this one little aspect a whole sense of tragedy is added to the film. The hazmat’s, normally the villains of any Hollywood throwaway, are actually trying to help these people (to an extent, anyway), but the stress-induced paranoia has changed anything unknown to them into an enemy. This panic also renders the other potentially infected into a scared, mindless horde who will do anything to ensure they get the help they need, pitting patient against patient in a violent struggle for survival.
While there a couple of stock characteristics in here each character has been developed with a specific role in mind and the casting choices are very smart. Containment bucks trends by swapping the roles of the least-likely to survive with the most-likely and any death involved is not at the hands of the most obvious but comes in different ways that you won’t see coming.
For a film that’s set in one naturally bland location Containment contains a lot of thrills and suspense, which shows just how good a job Lemon has done on this script. You don’t learn too much about the nature of the virus, the background of the hazmat’s or why this location, but it adds to this mysterious disconnection the characters are experiencing and passes this feeling on. They don’t know what’s happening, and neither do you. It works perfectly.
In comparison to generic Hollywood blockbusters you’ll wonder why there are some very smart film-making choices in Containment that big budget films don’t utilise. Rather than wish for them on the big screen it might be an idea to go out and find the small-time films that do use them. Chances are they’re doing a better job with it.