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Horror - Ghosts

The Awakening (2011)

Duration1h 42m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: R, Norway: 15 
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorNick Murphy
Writers/ScriptStephen Volk, Nick Murphy
StarringRebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Shaun Dooley, John Shrapnel,  Joseph Mawie,
RatingsIMDb: 6.4/10 by 66,415 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 62% by 74 reviewers. Review2view: 6.5/10.

Elevator Pitch: In 1921, Florence Cathcart, an author who helps the police debunk fake séances, is asked by schoolmaster Robert Mallory to visit a preparatory school (for boys between 8 and 13) to investigate the ghostly sightings of a dead pupil. Once at the school she investigates but seems to lose control of what is happening. It will turn out that when the school was a private residence she was a child there and witnessed her father shooting her mother and his son. She thinks she lost her parents in Africa. At the end of term all the boys except one are taken home leaving her there with Robert, the matron and the handyman. The matron knows who she is, and who the boy who has been left there is. Things are very spooky.

Content: Florence, after falling into the lake has a bath and we do see her a bit naked. She also gets intimate with Robert with no nudity, but alarmingly the handyman attempts to rape her but is killed. At the start we see her debunk a séance, which were popular after the war. She has lost her fiancée in the conflict.  There are ghostly appearances at the school, are they ghostly or is she seeing things? In the end there are revelations. I have revealed one which I think will improve your enjoyment of the film, but there is more.

A View: This was a low budget thriller, but even so may not have made any money. Rebecca Hall seems to put her all into it, so good for her. But the plot lacked clarity, a view expressed by the Roger Ebert writer. For instance there is a model of the school with figures inside, which change as things progress but even when all is revealed and although the idea is arresting, this aspect remains obscure. Who could have made the models, and why? But all in all the period is well evoked  and the environment austere. Probably a watch while doing your knitting.

Some lesser known ghost stories reviewed on this site include Housebound, Gothika, and outstandingly The Babadook.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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  1. Pingback: The Ring (2002) | A MOTION PICTURE LIST - August 23, 2022

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