Written by Phil Cerroni
By Matt Mungle
Title: The Awakening
Nothing is as classic as a good old fashioned ghost story. Long before the Freddy’s, Jason’s, and Michael Meyer’s took over the big screen scream genre, people loved to be scared by a worthy haunting. The Awakening is one such tale that doesn’t rely on 3rd person paranormal activity or body modifying possession. All it needs is an old house and a rumor of shadows in the night.
A boarding school in 1921’s England (another perfect ingredient for chills) declares having a wandering spirit. The young boys swear to have all seen a small lad floating about. The administration hires the skills of Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) a skeptic who not only relies on science to explain away such foolishness but has written a bestselling book that unravels all claims. However, she soon begins to question her own beliefs and discovers things more terrifying than spooky specters.
Although this film does nothing new, it does a fantastic job of borrowing from the genre and creating a riveting movie. You have to be clever these days to craft something that will keep a viewer on the edge of their seat without falling back on the easy scare. Sure this one has a few of the “I know what is coming” moments, but it isn’t strictly formulaic. The set design and story line are enough to generate the imagination juices so that you conjure up all sorts of ideals all on your own. You get caught up in the mystery right alongside Cathcart yet you stay one step ahead of her with what you are allowed to see.
The film stars many of the familiar British faces. Imelda Staunton plays one of the housekeepers and has a lot of insight to the happenings going on. Dominic West is Robert Mallory. He not only wants to clear up this mysterious event but has an eye on the fetching Florence. Hall is not well known but many may remember her from the Woody Allen farce Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the action thriller The Town. She fits perfectly in the 1920’s with her stature and facial features. Her eyes convey a haunting all their own and you get the impression right away that she is troubled by her work.
Fans of films like The Others and The Orphanage will appreciate this one. It has the ability to stand on its own while having keeping the familiar. What I will say is that this one will have you talking long after it is over. The Awakening is rated R for some violence and sexuality/nudity. There are two very brief nude glimpses; neither being overtly sexual in nature. Also the language is very mild. Mainly there is the overall theme of the story and some of the violent images. These two are not gory or for shock value but rather there to convey the story.
I give it 4.5 out of 5 dusty windows. I like horror films that make you think and that play out in beautifully designed scenes. This one could easily fit in any decade which to me is important for a movie wanting to stake its claim as a ghost story.
Review copyright 2012 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.