Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Awakening

Ghost Hunter Florence Cathcart.
A ghostly child with a twisted Scream like face, a haunted house, some very spooky characters and a ghost hunter with a deep and shocking secret are the ingredients of The Awakening (2011) which sets out its intent in the opening credits with the following statement: After the massive loss of life in World War 1 many drew comfort from a belief in the supernatural. Its 1921 and Robert Mallory a schoolmaster at Rookford Boarding School for Boys, situated in the wilds of Cumbria, is sent to engage Ms Florence Cathcart a ghost hunter who exposes fake spiritualists and who is deemed somewhat of an authority on the subject. This follows the case of a pupil who is said to have been scared to death by the ghostly apparition of young boy. Florence suspects that one or more of the pupils has engineered a deception that has ended in tragic circumstances, but with all the best stories involving the supernatural, all is not what it seems or is it?

This supernatural melodrama is co-written by Stephan Volk, whose work includes the screenplay for Ken Russell’s Gothic (1986), and Nick Murphy who’s directorial debut this is. The movie is a cross between Alejandro Amenabars The Others (2001), which starred Nicole Kidman who won a BAFTA for Best Actress for her performance, and the Spanish-Mexican horror film The Orphanage (2007) that was produced by Guillermo del Toro.

Its not what it seems - or is it?
It’s hard to believe that this is Rebecca Hall’s, Roedean School head girl and daughter of theatre and film director Peter Hall, first starring role after appearing in nine previous feature films! She does a very convincing job as the obviously troubled Florence Cathcart and has more than adequate support from Dominic West as Robert Mallory and Imelda Staunton as the Rookford’s matron.

There are some genuinely creepy moments with the cinematography presenting a cold and unfriendly image that’s absolutely essential to narrate a good ghost story. But with some contrived narrative ploys, for instance when Florence Cathcart drops as obviously cherished monographed cigarette case and attempts to pick up the ciggie’s before the silver case and therefore loosing the object at the bottom of a lake, and a combination of plot points that really don’t lead any where and are not always explained satisfactorily, tend to spoil this otherwise enjoyably ghostly thriller.

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