Excerpt: It's 1921 and Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), author of "Seeing Through Ghosts" and London's foremost expert on debunking paranormal hoaxes, has been called to a boarding house for young boys to investigate the mysterious death of a student that's been linked to a ghost that's said to haunt the school's halls. Little does she know that there's more to this place beyond being another job and there are ties to her own past that have lay dormant.
Excerpt: Arguments about faith and reason are nothing new. You don't even have to wade into the murky waters of religious debate to find a sharp divide between people who believe and people who don't. There is a bit of both in the story of Harry Houdini, the famed magician and escape artist who turned his attention to the world of spiritualists and mediums after the death of his mother.
Excerpt: The first feature directed by prolific television director, who co-wrote with Stephen Volk, 2011’s The Awakening is set in the England of 1921 and introduces us to a woman named Florence Cathcart who has come to some notoriety for her ability to expose supernatural incidents as hoax.
Conclusion: The Awakening isn't going to rouse a tried and true horror aficionado any more than it will wake the dead. But as routine haunted house genre pics go, it's a decent one. Even better than decent I'd argue. Murphy and Volk struggle with the ending, but the cast and crew rally to rewarding ends to keep the film kicking, and do so as if the story is more poignant and meaningful than it actually is.
Conclusion: There's a grim moodiness to 'The Awakening,' but its horror concepts fall flat. The haunted house movie has been done over and over. There's just nothing here that warrants special mention. There's nothing that distances this movie from the hundreds of other ghostly movies out there. The video presentation is a peculiar one to say the least. The audio is great though. It provides most of the scares.
Excerpt: If ParaNorman , also in theaters now, is a stop-motion-animated spin on the tried-and-true Scooby-Doo formula, then Nick Murphy’s The Awakening is the handsome, period-sensitive and refined interpretation of the beloved Ruby-Spears cartoon. Standing in for the investigative Scooby gang is Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), a skeptical ghost hunter operating in London in the years following World War I, when – as title cards inform – influenza and battle claimed more than...
Excerpt: The Awakening 's general premise (and opening scene particularly) recall Red Lights , from just a couple of weeks back; the broad strokes are reminiscent of The Others and last spring's Woman in Black ; hell, there's even a shout-out to Psycho , with a replication of the peephole shot that rivals Gus Van Sant's.
Excerpt: Set in a 1921 England still reeling from World War I and the influenza pandemic that followed, The Awakening is an upscale supernatural tale in the vein of The Orphanage and The Others , a film that tries to balance its genre elements with human drama. It succeeds more with the latter than the former, though the film does include a few effective chills, thanks to its elegantly creepy setting—an old manor house turned boarding school—and its use of period...