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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ideal evening choice
For me this is exactly the type of ghosty flick I enjoy. Nothing full of gore and unnecessary blood with disgusting, messed up faces lunging at the screen as a freak way of adding a scare. I probably sound incredibly dull but I love ghosty films that have the suspense and creepiness throughout the film then ends with a sudden twist that (for me) makes me understand why...
Published 22 months ago by Laura C

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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just "OK" - I Expected More
As a keen horror fan, this movie sounded like it was right up my street and having looked at some reviews online which were heavily favourable, I was hopeful it would be a great watch. Perhaps because my expectations were set so high, this film did leave me a little disappointed....

The movie started off well, with an interesting and charming lead character...
Published on 12 Mar 2012 by Elk2011


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wake Up, Boo!, 12 Sep 2012
By 
This review is from: The Awakening [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The good old fashioned ghost story is back, in the form of cinema. The likes of `Paranormal Activity' and `The Orphanage' in 2007 have helped green light many a decent chiller since. These are stories that forgo the gruel of `Saw' style movies and instead rely on the classic scares and atmosphere of a `The Haunting' or `The Innocents'. `The Awakening' follows in these footsteps of the genre, with the cynical Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) visiting an all-boys boarding school during a school break to investigate a series of mysterious happenings.

It takes a combination of several things to tell a good movie ghost story and `The Awakening' gets most of them right. Good casting is a start and in Hall and Dominic West they have two more-than-capable leads. Atmosphere is the next things and director Nick Murphy provides this by the bucket load with creepy shots. He is aided in no small way by some eerie sets and great sound effects/music. Finally, the story itself must hold up. Like with many ghost stories the premise of `The Awakening' is a basic one, but it feels believable and packs a big enough punch at the end so you feel your time has not been wasted.

A film like this lives and dies by the subtly of the scares and it is here that `The Awakening' is a triumph. The slow build up, coupled with shock moments means that you spend the entire film on the edge of your seat. My partner for one was terrified, without being put off by too much gore. The only real downside to `The Awakening' is that it is so traditional. It is a classic ghost story told in a classic way, but with modern techniques and sensibilities added for the scares. There is nothing truly fresh about the film, but it does the classic things well.

With its luscious sets, `The Awakening' is best seen on BluRay, the sound will also be better in this format.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAUNTING!, 28 Mar 2012
By 
G. Stephenson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
THE AWAKENING is a classic ghost story horror film with some of the greatest acting I've seen in a ghost film. The storyline was suspenseful, terrifying and well-though-out as well. There was also a very surprising and emotional twist that will definately make you think and want to watch the film again to look for clues. It is a very re-watchable film that I would recommend to people who like things like THE ORPHANAGE, INSIDIOUS and THE WOMAN IN BLACK. A very tense horror film and one of the best I've seen so far this year! 10/10 for sure!
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just "OK" - I Expected More, 12 Mar 2012
By 
Elk2011 "Elk2011" (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
As a keen horror fan, this movie sounded like it was right up my street and having looked at some reviews online which were heavily favourable, I was hopeful it would be a great watch. Perhaps because my expectations were set so high, this film did leave me a little disappointed....

The movie started off well, with an interesting and charming lead character (played by Rebecca Hall) who you take an instant liking to. As a ghost "hunter" set on disproving the existence of ghosts and exposing people who fake them for financial gain, she doesn't fall into the typical haunting "victim" category. When she's asked to investigate a haunting at a boys boarding school, it starts off well - the first night having lots of activity which keeps you in suspense waiting for that moment you know is coming where something will make you jump - unfortunately it didn't really come but the suspense was good enough to keep me engaged anyway.

Unfortunately after that, the plot seems to go downhill and become somewhat disjointed with several scenes that just don't seem to add anything to the story or really e.g. falling into the lake, the attempted rape etc.

<WARNING - THE NEXT PARAGRAPHS CONTAIN SPOILERS. SKIP TO LAST PARAGRAPH TO AVOID>

Other scenes just made no sense once you realise that Tom is a ghost for example, who did Robert believe Florence was speaking to about her fiancée if not Tom? Did he hear just her side of the conversation? If so, it would have made no sense!

I also felt that several bits of the plot were left as loose ends when they really needn't have been. For example Tom indicated that he was scared of someone (which we must assume is te ghost of his father) but this is never picked up again after Florence knows the truth and I was unable to understand why Florence could no longer see Tom or Maud after Maud killed herself - what would cause this? Finally, while I could just about "buy" that Florence had forgotten the trauma of her childhood (despite apparently having wrote about it in her book), I did struggle to believe that she didn't even know who her parents were, how they died or that lady caring for her in the initial scenes wouldn't have some indication? I initially thought maybe I'd "missed something" and perhaps I have, but having spoken to others who watched it I didn't seem to be alone!

Overall, this movie had real potential and it's direction and general "feel" are great, as is the lead character Florence but it's let down by what appears to be either poor editing and/or a requirement to cut time out of the movie which has left gaps making the scenes feel disjointed or nonsensical. It's worth watching, but don't expect to be left scared out of your skin from this one - it's more about the emotional relationships than it is the spooky ghosts.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great atmospheric film., 3 Oct 2012
By 
This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
Great atmospheric film with twists & turns throughout. One of those old-fashioned spooky ones that made me jump in my seat a few times. I prefer this kind of creepy horror to the recent torture & gory fests that seem to be appearing.
There are a few twists & turns as you find out why Florence has been brought to the house & what happened there before. The ending is even a twist in sorts in itself, as it's left to you to work out.
Recommended if you like The Others, The Woman in Black, Skeleton Key etc.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, as I expected more, 2 Sep 2012
By 
P. DATTA "Pritthijit" (Stockton on Tees, Teesside) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
The Awakening has the qualities of a potentially classic British supernatural film. I expected a lot more. I feel injustice has been done. I feel the potential has been ruined on what could have been remembered as a classic ghost film. I have seen much better ghost films than this.

The plot is about a boarding school set in the beautiful countryside. An author and paranormal expert has been requested to investigate haunting stories by a headteacher (West), despite initial reluctance. Many pupils have reported seeing the images. The boarding school unfolds a horrifying past, as it once used to be a residential home. There is a story behind the haunting images. It is interesting and fascinating to hear about a spooky tale. In terms of a plot, it seems a great idea. but poor execution let the film down. I applaud the historical settings, as shows what life was like in Post World War 1. These settings add a sinister and creepy atmosphere to the film. The plot is disjointed and confused mid-way through following a promising start.

The atmospheric and periodic settings show minimal effects . The film failed to keep me glued. It needed a sprinkle of imagination to build interest of the audience. There are plenty of dialogues throughout the film, but does not really head any direction at all as ideas become depleted. The critic's comments about the film are misleading "Jump out of your seat scary". There are few ghostly images, but it did not scare me at all and it not convincing enough to grip me. There is a lack of suspense and is missing the oomph factor. The characters are plain boring and bland. The leading character lacks depth and warmth. The acting to the performance lacks passion and spark. I am questioning whether Hall's forte is suitable for playing periodic characters. It requires a special type of performance. Her character is not engaging.

Three stars is a fair reflection as the ideas are great, but the execution and suspense element ruins the film. Overall, I was left disappointed as I looked forward to a gripping film. It fails to deliver.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best ghost films I've seen in a long, long while, 14 May 2012
This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
I love a good ghost story. There's something about it that speaks to the primeval, the child in me hiding beneath the covers, shaking with fear and excitement. They don't have a terribly good press- they are, often not unfairly, labelled cheesy, cliche and overdone- but when they're done right there are few things better.

And The Awakening is one of the best ghost films I've seen in a long, long while. It certainly blows Hammer's disappointing The Woman in Black straight out of the water- though some might think the lack of Daniel Radcliffe on the cast list gives it an unfair advantage.

But first thing's first: my declaration of interests. I know Mr Stephen Volk, the writer (well, over Facebook and the like, at least). I'm a fan of his previous work (Afterlife and the excellent Ghostwatch), and of his columns in horror fiction mag Black Static. I've also been wanting to see this film since its cinema release, but due to the ineptitude of Odeon Cinemas had to wait until the DVD release.

Now that's done, onto the review. The Awakening follows ghost-hunter and -debunker Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), who comes to Rookwood boarding school on the request of teacher Robert Mallory (Dominic West, of The Wire fame, looking like he was carved right out of a block of manliness). There she sets about debunking the "ghost" that has been blamed for the death of a student, just in time for the kiddies to go home for the holidays. Which is when the real creepy goings on start.

The "debunking" story is a fairly uncommon, but nonetheless established, model of horror story- and one I have a lot of time for. It invariably comes down to a character analysis of the debunker. In this case, Florence's motivations and history take centre stage of the entire film, but they do so almost subtly- so you don't even notice until it's already happening.

I won't give the plot ending away (because it is rather special), but as befits the story type you know it will go either one way or the other. Either the occurrences will be supernatural, or they won't. In that way, it's a lot like watching a coin spin on a table. It'll either finish heads up or tails up, and you just have to wait and see. But The Awakening is a lot more entertaining to watch.

And that is largely down to the atmosphere. This is something that is integral to horror films, but which so many seem to get wrong. They either don't spend enough time getting the audience into the right frame of mind, or they do and then ruin it (see the Paranormal Activity films). Here, though, there is a constant air of subtle creepiness, rendered all the more creepy for being uncertain of whether it is malevolent or harmless. Through the setting, the music and the acting, I found myself on the edge all the way through.

So there you have it. Very highly recommended, particularly if you like horror to reach you through more than simply loud noises and "jumpy" moments. Best served chilled, in a dark room, on a big screen, and with the volume up a little too high. And probably not alone.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great British ghost story with superb acting and is wonderfully filmed. The plot twist lets it down but I liked it regardless, 14 April 2012
By 
L. Hubbard (Cardiff) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
The Awakening is a brilliant British ghost story set after World War 1. The main character Florance Cathcart is an educated woman with a hazy backstory, who debunks mediums and associated lines of work as being charlatans. She is then recruited by a school to investigate alleged ghostly occurrences using logic and science to understand what is going on. I won't reveal any more of the plot than that because I don't want to give away any spoilers. Needless to say, there are twists and turns along the way, some of which I didn't see coming. There are a few jumps along the way as you would expect from a film of this type, but there is no real horror aspect to it, instead relying on suspense and imagination to shock rather than gratuitous gore. The film itself is not fast paced, but I liked that. At 107 minutes in length, it is a decent length and despite the relatively slow pacing, I didn't feel it dragged at any point.

Regarding the acting, I thought the performances were outstanding, particularly the lead actress Rebecca Hall. She is in the majority of the scenes and is one of the reasons why the film is so good. Her change in character over time is brilliantly executed. Also, Maud (the school matron) played by Imelda Staunton is well played. I did find the main male character Robert Malory played by Dominic West to be a little wooden, but that might just have been due to the fact that Rebecca Hall was so good.

The film is beautifully shot and the locations are superb. The colours in the film are slightly dulled, giving it a nostalgic feel and means the film never looks too jolly or light.

I am a fan of film scores/soundtracks, and for those who are interested, the score can be found here: The Awakening OST. Essentially, there is some tense atmospheric music, but the wonderful main theme for Florance Cathcart features some great writing for the solo violin, which I rather liked.

Overall, this is a good old fashioned ghost story that contains fantastic acting, is beautifully shot and has a wonderfully haunting score. The general story is good, but the inevitable plot twist felt a little too big. That said, I thought the quality of the film as a whole was good enough for that to not be a huge issue. The film also is also worthy of at least two watches to catch things you might have missed first time. In my opinion, this is a solid 4* film that does not deserve some of the poor reviews it has received on here. If you liked films such as The Others and The Orphanage, you will definitely appreciate The Awakening.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK...but that's all, 15 April 2012
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This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
The setting in a boy's school and the idea of using a period when mediums were much used...well, it all starts well. The locations are good and there is a well-turned sense of foreboding.

But it just isn't good enough...Rebecca Hall isn't enthralling - she irritates all through because she does not speak at all like a character from the period and it is distracting. Why go to so much expense in the setting and not have the actress...well, act. She goes on as if she's in 'Spooks.'

Too much like 'The Others' which was a far better film.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Who you gonna call? (spoilers), 12 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Awakening [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Be warned: If you Have seen The Woman In Black, it may affect the way you see this film. So if you get the chance, see this before...

The plot of the film Surrounds a woman who reveals confidence tricksters (which when we meet her, we have the best set piece of the whole movie), gets called to a school as the children may be playing a hoax.

We Meet Dominc west, who has a slight stutter and picks his legs, and also Imelda Staunton, who still thinks shes in Vera Drake.

There she hears a story of a boy who died, but a lot of th children still see him walk the corridors Cue the shocks....

As well as the Woman in Black, this film owes a lot to The others as well. The children in the film are very unnerving and the inclusion of photographs is reminiscent of the 2001 chiller.

The performances are okay, West and Hall stand out in this, but it has a sense of Deja vu to it.

The best scare is in the trailer, and the reason i advise people to see this before TWIB, is because not many people have heard of this, and it would be unfair to class this as a rip-off to that movie.

The Orphanage maybe.....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric film, 1 Mar 2014
By 
Patricia Millar (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
This TV offering more than lived up to expectation. The acting was superb and the story gripped from start to finish.
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