Directed by Brian Netto
Taking the form of an episode of the titular (fictional) TV show that never made it to air because of the horrors captured by the cameras throughout, Brian Netto’s Delivery gives the found footage/mockumentary genre the creative shot in the arm that it sorely needs. Leads Vail and Barclay are Rachel and Kyle Massey, a young couple expecting their first child who agree to be filmed for the bright and cheerful daytime reality show ‘Delivery’. Via hidden cameras throughout their home and a crew covering their every move, the trials, tribulations and joys of expectation and parenthood are set to be laid bare by the couple, alongside the assistance of the show’s Producer, Rick (Cobuzio). From the outset, we’re well aware that things are going to take a dark turn as Rick makes frequent appearances as a talking head in between the show’s footage, detailing just what went on behind and before the cameras – and very early on reveals that Rachel did not survive the ordeal that you are about to witness.
Sure enough, shortly into the show’s presentation Rachel suffers what she believes to be a miscarriage (the couple having fallen foul of this on a previous attempt at procreation). Hospital tests eventually locate a heartbeat, however, and everything seems back on track for the doting parents-to-be. The truth is not so, as this proves to be the beginning of a downward spiral for all involved. The family dog begins acting aggressively towards Rachel, while she is tortured by inexplicable occurrences and strange glitches permeate the television crew’s footage when she is around. As Rachel struggles to cope with the increasing strangeness in their home, she becomes convinced that an evil presence has taken possession of her unborn child – the demon Alastor has chosen her baby to be his vessel, and wishes to be born into the world.
Crucially, Netto never gives us a direct answer as to just what is actually going on here – leaving a constant thread of doubt as to whether the silent voices and other phenomena reported by Rachel are indeed real, or a creation of a dangerously stressed mind and/or hormonal imbalance. Of course, the various convenient footage defects and some other technical strangeness does point in a certain direction, yet there’s always a niggling doubt – and that doubt is what makes Delivery so shockingly effective when the masterfully timed climax hits. See this with an audience, and you’re unlikely to be surrounded by so many simultaneous gasps of horror at any point this year.
The entire backbone of Delivery rests with the cast, all of whom go above and beyond throughout with elements of scripted material and improvisation creating a perfectly natural flow to their interactions. Vail and Barclay are immediately believable as the young couple in love, with Vail in particular providing a supremely naturalistic turn early on. Her reaction to the potential miscarriage of their child (again) feels devastatingly real, putting the audience firmly on the side of these two and wishing for them to succeed – overriding, even if only for a few moments, the fact that we already know that she didn’t walk away from this. It’s a top class turn from everyone involved, and undoubtedly the key to much of Delivery‘s successes.
While the performances and technical presentation of Delivery are absolutely on par with what it wishes to deliver, Netto does falter in the pacing of his story as the third act approaches. Events begin to drag, even if the slow burn approach itself maintains a strong course and keeps the tension high, lending a feeling of aimless meandering in the latter stages that only finds itself interrupted by the highly shocking finale. Overall, this slip isn’t a fatal blow considering just how solidly constructed and performed Delivery is as a whole. Thoroughly unsettling, emotionally poignant and incredibly startling in the finish, Delivery delivers the goods – though it might just have you stocking up on Durex.
4 out of 5