Director – Neil McEnery-West, Screenplay – David Lemon, Story – David Lemon & Neil McEnery-West, Producers – Christine Hartland, Casey Herbert & Pete Smyth, Photography – Arthur Mulhern, Music – Graham Hadfield, Special Effects Supervisor – Jennifer Groves, Makeup Design – Ruth Pease, Production Design – Eleonore Cremonese. Production Company – Vision Films/Bandoola Productions/Patchwork Productions/Bright Cold Day Films.
Lee Ross (Mark), Andrew Leung (Sergei), Sheila Reid (Enid), William Postlethwaite (Aiden), Louise Brealey (Sally), Pippa Nixon (Hazel), Gabriel Senior (Nicu)
Mark wakes in the morning to find the power in his apartment is off and that he is unable to leave because his door has been glued shut. As he looks across the courtyard, he sees that the residents of the adjacent apartment buildings have been similarly imprisoned. His neighbours break through the wall and group together trying to understand what has happened. As they watch, people in hazmat suits gather outside and begin herding out residents of the other buildings. The group break through the door and manage to capture Hazel, one of the people in hazmat suits. From her, they realise that the entire area has been quarantined because of a deadly infection. Due to the hot-headed Sergei placing Hazel in the window with a sign announcing that they have her, the residents of the other buildings now break in seeking the single syringe of antidote she has.
In many ways, Containment is just another variation on the plague outbreak drama. We have seen plenty of films on this subject – Outbreak (1995), Contagion (2011), Flu (2013), not to mention the tv series of the same name that came out shortly after this with Containment (2016), to name a handful. The genre has gained its own familiar imagery – sinister figures in hazmat suits, the imposition of martial law, the handful of people trying to get free from the quarantine zone with a cure and so on.
Containment offers a unique twist on this – it starts with one man in his apartment waking to go about his workday only to discover bizarrely enough that he has been glued inside his apartment (and then that people in the surrounding buildings have as well). This is followed by the neighbours in adjoining apartments breaking through the walls and coming together in trying to figure out what is happening.
What happens after they get answers fall into the standard plague outbreak drama but the difference of perspective makes for something interesting and unusual. The tensions that build throughout the film all logically come from trying to ascertain the situation and discover a means of escape. There is never any wider depiction of the epidemic beyond the apartment buildings, its causes or what.
The characters we get are all well drawn. The unknown actors cast are fine in the roles with particular kudos going out to Andrew Leung as the angry and hot-headed Sergei and Sheila Reid as the aging and weak-minded neighbour who nevertheless has the ability to toss off wryly flinty one-liners. The only cliche character is William Postlethwaite’s Aiden who seems to be cast far too much as the archetypical conspiracy nut.