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The Awakening – 6

Director – Nick Murphy

Cast – Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Lucy Cohu, John Shrapnel, Alfie Field, Diana Kent, Richard Durden, Cal Macaninch

Release Year – 2012

Reviewed by John of the Dead

The Awakening marks the newest attempt at cashing in on the success of the Guillermo del toro-produced The Orphanage. Set in 1921 and with England still recovering from the loss and grief of World War I, hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boys’ boarding school to explain the sightings of a child ghost. While able to expose a few of the school’s controversies, her lack of belief in the supernatural is put to the test when the “missing” begin to show themselves.

This story started off really well, giving us background into Florence’s work. Her passion for exposing hoaxes used to defraud people has attracted the attention of law enforcement who work alongside her and arrest the defrauders. She grieves alongside her country over the losses of WW1, which took her one love and has left her bitter ever since, making her work the only thing that provides her comfort and a sense of worth. Soon enough she is invited to the boys school by a representative of the school, Robert Mallory, and what she sees as a simple mission to prove their fears are only in their mind proves to be an experience she never saw coming. She finds success at first, immediately getting to the bottom to some of the phenomena going on in the school, but when the school lets out and leaves her alone with the employees/caretakers she soon becomes exposed to the real hauntings and dark history hidden within the walls.

Once we get to this point in the story it becomes like any other supernatural horror film involving a school/orphanage, where she not only discovers the haunting history of the place but also learns more about herself. On top of that, she also learns that she has ties to the school and its tragic events, another element that did not surprise me. The story is engaging enough but when the cliches began to click in during the middle of the second act I found myself losing interest. I suppose if the viewer has not been exposed to films like The Orphanage then they may find joy in what turned me off, but if you have then this is simply a less-effective tale that pales in comparison to the incredible 2007 Spanish film.

This is director Nick Murphy’s first time dabbling into the horror genre, and his execution was mostly positive. From the get-go he brings forth great atmosphere, gloomy sets, and awesome cinematography that envelop us into the sad era that is post-WW1 England. His actors achieve good performances and the overall look of the film seems to be of quality, which aided in keeping my attention. The horror was OK, giving us a few decent chills that came via lame CGI effects. I did enjoy the look of the little boy’s ghost and his disfigured face, but the CGI kept it tame when it could have been pretty frightening. Nonetheless Murphy did well, but not well enough on the horror to put this up there with better, previously mentioned efforts.

Overall, The Awakening is a decent atmospheric supernatural flick that could suffice for a boring night or for those of you not familiar with these experiences. The story is nothing special and neither is Murphy’s direction aside from the look of the film, so I would not recommend going into this expecting more than decent scares.

Rating: 6/10

  1. April 28, 2013 at 1:47 am

    I watched this movie some time ago and I totally agree with you. It’s more of a drama in the second half than the horror movie, a drama about lonely people who are trying to find someone. Although it has a good atmosphere I wouldn’t recommend it to some hardcore horror fan because most of them will be dissappointed. I would rather call this movie a drama about lonely people with occasional horror elements 🙂

    • April 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Yes that is a very good way to put it Hank. Pretty much nailed it in a few words.

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