The Awakening (2011)

October 26, 2012 - 5:14pm | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: BBC Films, Cal Macaninch, Daniel Pirrie, Dominic West, drama, ghosts, haunting, Imelda Staunton, Lucy Cohu, Mystery, Nick Murphy, Optimum Releasing, Origin Pictures, period piece, Rebecca Hall, Scottish Screen, Shaun Dooley, spirits, Stephen Volk, StudioCanal, The Awakening, thriller

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Nick Murphy
Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Lucy Cohu, Shaun Dooley, Daniel Pirrie, Cal Macaninch

Nick Murphy makes his feature film directorial debut with The Awakening--a supernatural period thriller that seemed like a pretty solid piece of ghost cinema until it sadly veered towards common territory towards the end.

The story is set during WWI and follows a female ghost-debunker who travels from one place to the other proving false supernatural claims. Her recent gig takes her to a faraway prestigious boy's school that the staff says has been haunted for years by the eerie spirit of a deceased young boy. The skeptic that she is, she goes in thinking it'll be another easy job, but soon realizes that there may be more to these stories and sightings than she thought.

This is more of a ghostly drama than anything, as it's a very slow-building supernatural tale that's kind of in the vein of older pics that relied more on character development, storytelling and atmosphere than anything. Some may be turned off by this, but I found it refreshing compared to most of the shit that comes out of the supernatural sub-genre now, specifically with all these unimaginative found footage efforts.

The setting may not be the most original, but was made up for with its ominous tone, specifically in the first half where we're given a really moody and atmospheric chiller. Actress Rebecca Hall delivers a convincing performance as the lead who witnesses all these strange sightings and ominous noises, all of which equal to some genuinely creepy material.

Around the mid-mark is where it starts to shift gears and becomes less subtle with what's going on in the school, which does impact the effectiveness of the first half. Sadly, it doesn't stop there as it starts to fall apart towards the end when we're given some questionable plot reveals that shouldn't really come as much of a surprise to fans of the genre. It's sad considering how strong the movie seemed in the first half, but aside from that, it wasn't an entirely bad watch.

The Awakening is a slow-building, moody, supernatural period thriller that delivers some genuinely creepy scenes thanks to its subtle approach towards its scares in the first half. Unfortunately, it does fall apart a bit towards the end due to pacing changes and plot reveals, but for the most part is a decent addition to the sub-genre.

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FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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