Directed By: Nick Murphy
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Shaun Dooley, Joseph Mawle, et. al.
In 1921, just after World War I has ended, psychics and supernaturalists have become highly popular with those grieving the loss of their loved ones. Florence Cathcart, however, has made a career of debunking the supernatural and exposing the charlatans taking advantage of those overcome with grief. After being approached by Robert Mallory, a teacher at an all-boys boarding school in the country, which he says has been plagued with sightings of ghosts, she’s hesitant to involve herself. However, when she learns that these sighting have culminated in the death of one of the students, she ultimately agrees to help. Shortly after her arrival, the students are released on holiday, leaving only Florence, Robert, the caretaker, the school’s matron, and a young boy who’s parents live too far away for him to visit over the break. After everyone else has gone, Florence begins experiencing a terrifying sequence of events, ultimately leading to her delving into her own past, as well as the school’s history.
The Awakening could simply have been a stereotypical ghost story, with the nonbeliever being converted with the first hint of supernatural activity, however, this film chooses to have her remaining skeptical, even after being confronted with what most would consider solid proof. The hazy, dreary setting of the English countryside in the rainy season, most of the color seems to have been leeched from the scenes, which adds to the tense, supernatural atmosphere. The actors all do well with their roles, and give off an air of slight unease that increases as the supposed haunting intensifies. The storyline is well done, and not quite as predictable as some others in the same genre. The movie is probably more of a thriller than a horror, as it’s relatively bloodless aside from a scene where the caretaker attempts to assault Florence, and a flashback sequence that shows how her family died.
Despite this being a horror/thriller involving ghosts, the special effects are kept to a minimum. There’s some heavy saturation in flashback scenes, and the most of the scenes at the school have color timing done to mute the tones, but none of it is too flashy, and there are little, if any, ghostly effects. All other effects are kept to background filler, and aren’t noticeable.
Fans of horror/thrillers and ghost stories will enjoy this film. While there’s no real action, the movie instead going for psychological drama, the story is interesting and intense enough to hold your attention. Also, while you don’t necessarily need to pay strict attention to the plot, it’s also not a movies you can ignore for long periods without losing your place. It’s also not so intense that you’ll only want to watch it once.
The Awakening is not available free to stream anywhere at the moment, but it can be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service, or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.
Have a suggestion for something you’d like me to review? Let me know!
Want to help pay my bills? Donate here!