Searching through the abyss of Netflix, I came across ‘The Awakening’. Recently I have enjoyed selecting random horror films to watch on Netflix when usually I would do a quick Google search to decide whether or not a film would be worth watching, but what the hell, let’s go a little wild.
The Awakening is director Nick Murphy’s horror debut & Rebecca Hall plays the lead – Florence Cathcart, whose job it is to expose charlatans & disprove supernatural phenomenon. Set in 1921 – post World War I, as the film started I was instantly reminded of ‘The Others’, films similar in story, and also ‘The Orphanage’. A synopsis of the film is as follows. Florence appears to the audience as a troubled woman, hell bent on proving that the supernatural does not exist, she subsequently ends up at a boys boarding school after a teacher there reaches out to her, Robert Mallory, played by Dominic West. A child died at the school and the remaining children are terrified due to what they believe to be a ghost now residing there. Cathcart does her job, and disproves the ghost theory, rather quickly you could say, I’m not too sure where she gets half of the theory from, but whatever, we now know that there is not a ghost there. We then see Cathcart go back to her investigation as she is not satisfied and still feels that something is there in the building.
Rebecca Hall gives a solid performance and I was very fond of the character that she created and the way that Cathcart was portrayed, however, there are a few odd parts in the film. There is an attempted rape, by a character named Judd, who is shown to us to be a liar that avoided being enlisted in the war. I’m not too sure if there was any need for this scene as we had already been shown that Cathcart was a capable, educated woman and so her defending herself from this slimy brute was a little unnecessary. There are a few moments where we see the vulnerability of Mallory & Cathcart laid bare and stripped back, and indeed at one point they are both laid down and stripped which adds a little bit of sauce to the feature.
The film reaches a point where it wants the audience to believe that the mystery has been solved, but we know that this is not the end, and simply wait for it to delve back in and ‘re-open the case’ as it were. I won’t go in to the rest of it but what the film results in is a very personal look in to Cathcart’s childhood which she has repressed, and aided by schoolboy Tom – Isaac Hempstead Wright – her childhood memories come spilling out and we are able to see the reason that she is a troubled woman.
I enjoyed this film. At 106 minutes it is quite long for a tale of this type, but there is enough suspense and mystery to keep you hanging on. If you have a short attention span – probably best to avoid as you’ll likely resort to watching cat videos on your phone. The time period it is set in appeals to me, I like a nice period setting and the location is absolutely great. The school itself is made up of four different houses which gives us the sense of emptiness and grandeur as the cast rattle around.
I’d say this is worth a watch, a solid film, but not one likely to be remembered for being at the forefront of the genre.
I’ll rate this one 3 out of 5.