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Customer Review

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Next time, hire a decent scriptwriter, 14 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: The Awakening (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
Predictability in a ghost story isn't always a problem. Stock situations can be twisted into something new, or they can be assembled to produce a template that, even if it doesn't surprise, can still produce a sense of unease and a few shivers.

The Awakening has all of the expected elements: a large, foreboding building; spooky children; mordant, sadistic teachers; a creepily predictive dolls house; unexplained footsteps; a kindly, but ultimately bonkers housekeeper; and a handsome bit of totty for the leading actress to fall in love west (Dominic West, in this instance). And there are substantial echoes of other films, most notably The Orphanage and The Turn of the Screw, but also of less exalted forebears, such as The Others.

It's decently if unimaginatively directed, with striking cinematography - the colours are washed out to the point where, in places, it resembles a film shot in black and white. There is competent, sometimes excellent acting.

But then there's the script. And what a confused farrago that is:

It tries to be a psychological thriller so that the ghosts that haunt the central characters are their own personal phantoms.

It tries to be a traditional ghost story, but lacks the imagination or craft to do more than clumsily recycle stock elements from other films.

There are scenes that are not only superfluous but resort to blunt stereotyping (a scene showing attempted rape is not only the crudest of plot devices but shows that people who opted not to fight in the war are Very Bad People).

Worst of all, there's The Twist. I didn't see it coming, but it's completely ludicrous, lacking believability, and isn't signalled in any form by preceding events. It's not like a film like The Sixth Sense, where revelation forces the viewer to go back and re-evaluate what they have seen so far. At this point the film descends so completely into melodrama that it becomes not atmospheric but an unknowing form of camp, and it's difficult not to suppress a giggle, which is presumably not what its makers intended.

So: predictable, in the worst way, and cliché ridden, and ridiculous, and at the film's conclusion, which clumsily attempts ambiguity, you feel nothing more than a sense of relief that it's finally come to an end. There are worse ways to waste two hours of your life, I suppose, but not many.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Jun 2012 22:55:59 BDT
Modern Man says:
You reflected my thoughts exactly. What a disaster of an ending. Well reviewed, thank you

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2012 20:13:23 BDT
willia says:
a truly dreadful film - how I wish I had read your review before I got it on LoveFilm. I almost shut it off several times - How I wish I had, a complete waste of time.

Posted on 25 Sep 2012 21:53:02 BDT
F. McGillion says:
Exactly. What a waste of what was almost a quite superb film.
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