Friday 30 August 2013

Review: The Awakening

World of Blackout Catch-up Review

The Awakening Poster

The Awakening (Spoiler-free)
Cert: 15 / 117 mins / Dir. Nick Murphy

More of a supernatural thriller than an outright horror, The Awakening is the story of an author and sceptic who accepts a job at a boys' boarding school after the first World War (the trailer says 1919, the movie says 1921, what can you do?), after sightings of a ghost have lead to the death of one of the pupils. As the building is emptied for the holidays, hallways echo and voices from the past make themselves heard…

On the plus side, the desaturated colour palette and wisely used camerawork gives the film a beautiful antique, claustrophobic feel reminiscent of The Others. The frights and chills are wholly expected, but delivered with a restrained perfection. As a ghost story, it sets out its stall and sells its wares beautifully. Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton all give solid performances perfectly in keeping with the atmosphere.

That said, it seems to owe a lot to stories you've already seen or read. That's not a deal-breaker when it's told as solidly as it is, but the further in to the film you get, the less it has to offer. Don't focus too much on the destination, and just enjoy the ride. As is usual with this sort of thing, a lot of the story's power lies in the first telling, so avoid spoilers if you can. Best watched in the dark.

Is the trailer representative of the film?

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Just about.

Buy, pay to rent, or wait until it's on for free?
Pay to rent.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
A little.

Will I watch it again?
At some point.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't, no.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Where can I get me one of those torches that seems to illuminate nothing but my face as I'm tiptoeing around the house at night?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a 'catch-up' review. I watched this film at home, not at the cinema. I saw the trailer for this at the cinema, and I would have seen the film there too, but they didn't/couldn't show it. So now iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and Blockbuster get to reap the rewards of my local's advance-advertising, and I'm sure they're delighted. Now you may say "oh come on, they can't show everything down there", and that would be a valid point if they didn't do things like running Taken 2 for six weeks. Was it that successful? No, I don't think so. Twilight? Batman? Les Mes? Sure, go for it; if they're pulling the punters in then keep making that money. But Taken 2? I ask you. Anyway, this is essentially a DVD review, but still of a new(ish) film. There. I'm glad that's sorted.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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