Review of The Awakening

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This film takes place in 1921 and England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves
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Movie Review: "The Awakening"

-- Rating: R
Length: 107 minutes
Release date: November 11, 2011
Directed by: Nick Murphy
Genre: Horror, Thriller

"The Awakening," released in 2011 throughout Ireland, is a story set in England directly following World War I. The story follows Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) as she tries to explain the sightings of a ghostly child at a boarding school. Through her explorations of the supernatural world, she starts to recall things that she had forgotten from when she was young. Throughout the story, more of Florence's memories are awakened, leading the audience to understanding her past and childhood.

"The Awakening" is incredibly ambiguous at the end, leaving audience members without true closure for the story. No one will have quite the same impression, so it's hard to say how the movie really ends, which makes it perfect for a sequel. Rebecca Hall plays her part effortlessly, giving the horror film dramatic acting throughout flashback moments. Her character is designed to grow through the recovered memories, and she is able to show this through her skills as an actress. Although her character is trying to disprove the existence of the supernatural, she is able to provide moments where audience members may begin to wonder if she wants to find the very thing that she is saying is not possible.

For audience members who are uncomfortable with the supernatural, this storyline may not be appropriate. It focuses on some mildly spiritual moments, and at times, the backstory becomes dark or inappropriate for younger audiences. Rated R for violence, sexuality, and nudity, it may not be suitable for those under 18, even with parental supervision. This is the kind of film that makes audience members think about what is happening and focus, which means it will remain in the mind long after the lights come back on. It is truly a scary ghost story, but it does build slowly, so audience members will need to have patience while the story develops. For those who are impatient for action sequences or dramatic plots, this movie is likely to be less than satisfactory.

The leading themes of the movie revolve around loneliness and guilt, making the film dark, but it also forces the audience to experience the troubled emotions of the main character. Although the story is slow to build, the pace remains constant. This helps move the story along without focusing too often or too long on one terrifying or depressing element of the plot.

Audience members with weak stomachs are bound to have moments of mild upset during the darkest spooky moments, and others will be squirming in anticipation of the next scene. The movie is not jumpy, like many thrillers and horror stories, so it is not going to cause shrieks or jumping in theater seats. It is not particularly focused on scaring the audience in the normal horror movie style; instead, it focuses more closely on the main character's attempt to disprove the existence of ghosts while secretly hoping her fiancée has passed over.

The movie has superb acting from everyone involved, and the direction provided by Nick Murphy provides the backbone of the thriller. "The Awakening" and its cast and crew have been nominated for five awards, and together, the movie, cast, and director won three. It won the Golden Raven Award (Nick Murphy), the Special Jury Prize (Nick Murphy), and the SCI FI Jury Award (Nick Murphy), and it was nominated for the Best British Newcomer (Nick Murphy) and British Independent Film Award (Best Actress: Rebecca Hall).

"The Awakening" received three of five stars, and they are well deserved. With fantastic cinematic and special effects, the movie is able to realistically show the world of the supernatural meshing with the human realms. It does all this without looking overdone or unrealistic, so it can still maintain the air of seriousness needed in a thriller that focuses on intellectual thinking and reactions.

This movie is ideal for anyone who wants to spend a spooky and thrilling night with a loved one or date, but it is not appropriate for family movie nights. For adult individuals or couples, this exciting film provides many moments where they will want to reach for a hand to hold. No matter what kind of movie audience members normally enjoy, for an evening of thrilling and dramatic moments or for those who just want to watch something new, "The Awakening" should be at the top of the movie list.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars