Directorial debut by Nick Murphy (British television show ‘Primeval’) and starring Rebecca Hall (The Prestige, Dorian Gray), Dominic West (The Forgotten, The Wire) and Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter, Vera Drake)
Set in 1920’s England after the loss and damage of World War I ‘The Awakening’ follows cocky ghost hoax exposer Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) who has been given the task of visiting a Cumbrian boarding school after the death of one of its young students. With numerous sightings of a boy ghost that is frightening the young boys to death, Florence uses every method in the book to expose the mysterious goings on as nothing more than a hoax, but as she investigates further, she realises that everything she believes in may not be as it seems.
The Awakening plays out like a traditional period horror and with great directing, acting and set design it works. Tension and suspense is subtly built up and delivers a few minor scares but nothing that will make you check under the bed before bedtime. The Awakening is more a story of loneliness and guilt built around the mysterious events at the remote boarding school that gives the viewer a few twists and turns that complement one another very well.
If you are looking for a really scary horror film to watch, this is not it, but what it lacks in scares it makes up for in its credible ability to story tell and I cannot fault it on that, although it does follow in the tradition of past chillers ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘The Others’.