Dave’s 3-Word Review
Confusing and Cliche
If there is one category of film that has a repetitive streak, it is typically horror films, or more specifically, paranormal horror films revolving around ghosts. The format is sometimes switched around enough to make it its own thing, but sometimes those efforts take a step too far, and it becomes either over or underwhelming. Late last year, a movie was released that had people mixed in their anticipation for it. Will it be unique or the same thing done a thousand times before? So how well did “The Awakening” do, exactly?
Rebecca Hall stars in this film as Florence Cathart, a woman that has a unique view on the world of the paranormal in the early 1920s. When everyone else is gathered around a table, trying wholeheartedly to speak with the dead to get some kind of second chance to speak to those closest to them, Florence is trying to debunk it. That’s right; she is a professional skeptic, and a pretty good one at that. When a teacher named Robert Mallory (Dominic West) comes to visit her, he asks if she would help solve a case revolving around his school. This school is wrapped in mystery, as it is supposedly haunted. So she conducts her experiments to debunk this theory, until things begin to happen around her that causes her to rethink about her standing in her field.
What is the first thing that comes to mind after that brief synopsis? The story is on par and identical to countless other ghost stories out there. Creepy school, ghost children are always a creepy subject, contorted faces, and the one character that begins sane and ends up losing her marbles. What does make this film interesting, but not original, is her profession in debunking these claims. It has been seen before in such films as “1408” and “Red Lights”, where amazingly smart people investigate supposedly haunted places and events, and debunk them. The problem was those prior films did a remarkable job while this one was hidden under a thick layer of things we have already seen before.
When it came to creeps and scares, the movie reveled in it’s nonstop clichés and pop out moments, while it gave off the look of creepy. Think about the olden times, people are starting to seriously think about ghosts, stories are blooming, people are getting scared. It’s all about the suspense and creepiness, which this film didn’t have. Instead it had those pop-out moments while feeling a bit melodramatic or like a soap opera in parts. To be perfectly fair, the acting was good, the scenes were excellently shot, there was good editing and audio abound. However good everything was, it often gets snagged by the story.
You see, horror films like these usually have one of the following, a twist ending, an ending that leaves you thinking, scared, or all of the above. The ending to “The Awakening”, without spoiling you, will have a number of scenes that will just confuse you in more ways than one. Yes, sometimes confusion is healthy and makes a movie stronger, but not in this case. You will either be confused, or say you figured as much, either of which the movie was probably not going for.
Overall, the movie will feel familiar. Why? It is because you have seen it countless times before, and it will intrigue you at first. After being intrigued, you will immediately realize that although there is great shots and great acting, this is still the same thing we’ve seen over and over. It has its moments, but it isn’t anything spectacularly special. This is instead a standard horror film for any horror film enthusiasts that don’t care about all the intricate details that make a movie unique.
“The Awakening” comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Jan. 29!