The Awakening - Blu-ray Review

'the impact of The Awakening's trump card is lessened because you have already seen its hand played with more vigour before'

The first problem with The Awakening is that it is not several other films. Key amongst those films are recent Horror blockbuster The Woman In Black and high watermark of the Haunted House genre in recent years, The Orphanage. The Awakening features neither the scares of, particularly, the former, nor the deep thematic considerations and excellent characterisation of the latter. It is mildly creepy but never more than that and Rebecca Hall's Florence fails to be as sympathetic as Belén Rueda's Laura, or to project her terror as well as Daniel Radcliffe's Arthur.

The end too brings to mind other things that we've seen fairly recently. Revealing them would spoil the concluding twenty minutes or so but regardless of what they are, the impact of The Awakening's trump card is lessened because you have already seen its hand played with more vigour before. As a genre offering the sad truth is that it has little new to offer, often presented with no fresh sheen or spin.

The caveat to that is the fact that, once you accept that you are in the realms of the familiar, Nick Murphy's film does a fair job of telling its already-told tale. Hall and Dominic West give powerful performances, well flanked by Imelda Staunton and Game Of Thrones' Isaac Hempstead Wright. The cinematography by Eduard Grau - who shot Buried for Rodrigo Cortés - elevates the whole thing beyond the 'Downton Abbey with shocks', which it threatens to be for some time and the toe-dipping into the areas of lust and the curse of being alone do at least add something new-ish, albeit undeveloped.

The star power of the front two may not be strong in Hollywood terms but both - and West in particular - show gravitas and confidence enough to suck you in, although silliness towards the end where characters wantonly wander off on their own, does lessen the amount of faith you can place in both Florence's and Robert's (West) intellect.

Entertaining and passably watchable, with infinitely more to offer than your average contemporary piece of torture porn this ultimately feels too recycled to stand out further from the crowd.

Look further...

'early on, director Nick Murphy establishes the right kind of atmosphere and sets a suitably frosty tone, but, with characteristic modern twitchiness, overeggs this particular paranormal pudding' - Adventures In Couchsitting, 2/6

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