Movie Review: The Awakening by Jason Burleson

The Awakening is an intriguing, suspenseful film, set in 1921 England following directly after World War I.  It follows Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall, The Town), a published author and “educated woman,” who follows a pursuit to debunk and explain supernatural phenomena as well expose those who greedily use such events for their own needs. Florence, herself, is a devout critic of such unexplained events and insists that all happenings can be explained by science and proven fact.

This film begins by Florence receiving a visit from Robert Malory (Dominic West, 300), a teacher who works at a boarding school for young boys, after concluding a previous investigation.  Malory requests her help in investigating a recent death, sightings of a young ghost, and how they might be involved with each other.  While the request adds to her continuing workload, Florence agrees to help due to her own experience with growing up as an orphan.  Upon arriving at the school she meets Maud Hill (Imelda Staunton, Harry Potter), the housekeeper and huge fan of Florence’s books, who assists Florence in her investigations.  Florence also meets a lonely young orphan boy named Tom (Issac Hempstead-Wright, Game of Thrones) who befriends Florence.  Eventually, the ghostly sightings are discovered to be a ruse by one of the young boys but while investigating, Florence begins to experience her own thrilling moments of supernatural.  Slowly, she starts to learn that there is an even deeper connection between the orphanage and her, a connection that she did not expect or prepare for.

Going into this movie I had little in the sense of expectation.  Being this is my first movie review, I really just wanted to enjoy the movie.  While I did enjoy it, overall I was disappointed. The movie seemed to fall into that niche of being just like all other suspense thrillers.  Those films follow a sequence something like this: Enter smart girl.  Put smart girl into scary situation.  Smart girl learns she is not so smart.  Smart girl learns she is just as dumb as everyone else and gets the holy bejesus scared out of her.  I think the film is very predictable and unimaginable in my opinion. I feel they could have tried a little harder by giving it a more modern feel.

There are several moments in this movie I felt could have been left out and the film could still flow the same.  Some of those moments do not even make sense in this film.  Following scenes such as those, I kept hoping Florence would just drown in a lake so the movie could be over. I was also really disappointed with how the ghost was presented in this film. It’s very cliché. However, there are some parts of the movie I enjoyed. The director, Nick Murphy, instills a near Hitchcockian effect with music and suspense that makes it tolerable.  The cast itself is quality, no complaints there.  I loved watching Imelda Staunton play out her role.  She is excellent. The characters absolutely make this movie entertaining.  In the end, I found the plot to be dull while I kept waiting for it to grab me.

All and all, I would imagine most would be content to watch The Awakening.  The story is as thrilling as a ghost story should be, but lacks creativity. I just don’t see myself ever watching it again. Well, if it was on TV, at 2 am, and it was free.  Maybe if there were more boobs…

I give The Awakening 2 “creepy dolls” out of 5.

by Jason Burleson

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