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The Awakening (Blu-ray)

Ghostly goings on for Rebecca Hall & Dominic West

Disc Specs

Starring Rebecca HallDominic WestImelda Staunton Disc Cover
Directed By Nick Murphy Certificate 15
Audio DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Visuals 2.35:1 Widescreen
Running Time 106 mins
UK Release Date March 26, 2012
Genre Thriller, Horror, Period Drama
Our Rating
User Rating

The Awakening follows Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), a sceptical ‘ghost hunter' intent on debunking wild claims of paranormal activity in post-WW1 England. When she is approached to investigate a series of eerie occurrences at a countryside boarding school by one of its concerned schoolmasters (Dominic West), Florence begrudgingly travels to the remote Rookwood in order to investigate the ghostly sightings of a young boy. However, once at the school, Florence slowly begins to lose her grip on reality and finds it increasingly difficult to explain the creepy goings on.

With a back catalogue of credentials rooted in the small screen, it's perhaps no surprise that Nick Murphy's film very much feels like a Sunday night, BBC TV project, as opposed to a big screen ghost story. Small in budget, low on original ideas and lacking creative flair, The Awakening is a film riddled with ghost story clichés (hands reaching out of water, eyes and key holes, ghostly images caught on camera, creepy kids, a bonkers old woman – the list goes on), which wastes its talented cast and attractive setting with a plot that's predictable and not in the least bit compelling.

Aside from the odd jumpy sequence and a really creepy doll's house (though aren't they all?!), the film's flat execution ensures that The Awakening is a largely forgettable affair that pales in comparison with the films it is so obviously influenced by (The Innocents and The Others are two key inspirations). Rebecca Hall (excellent in The Town), fails to show off much charisma in the lead, while Dominic West and Imelda Staunton turn in solid if unmemorable supporting performances.

The Blu-ray's hi-def visuals make good use of the stunning locations (mostly filmed in Scotland), but the subtle soundtrack doesn't provide much in the way of an audio overload, which adds to the rather underwhelming experience overall.

Overall Verdict: Predictable and flatly executed, The Awakening is ultimately a rather sleepy affair.

Special Features:
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Nick Murphy
Behind the Scenes Featurette
A Time for Ghosts Featurette
Anatomy of a Scene
Anatomy of a Scream
Deleted Scenes
Director Interview

Reviewer: Lee Griffiths

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