In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves.
Anna Ivers returns home to her sister Alex after a stint in a mental hospital, though her recovery is jeopardized thanks to her cruel stepmother. Her dismay quickly turns to horror when she is visited by ghastly visions of her dead mother.
In 1921, in London, the arrogant and skeptical Florence Cathcart is famous for exposing hoaxes and helping the police to arrest con artists. The stranger Robert Mallory tells her that the headmaster of a boarding school in Rookford had invited her to travel to Cumbria to investigate a ghost that is frightening the pupils to death. He also tells that many years ago there was a murder in the estate and recently pupil Walter Portman had died. The reluctant Florence finally accepts to go to Cumbria. On arrival, she is welcomed by governess Maud and the boy Thomas Hill. Soon Florence discovers what had happened to Walter and then the students, teachers and staff are released on vacation, and Florence remains alone with Robert, Maud and Tom in the school. Florence is ready to leave the boarding school when strange things happen, leaving Florence scared. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
After finding her cigarette case in the pillow that she's ripped open, Florence goes outside with feathers stuck in her hair. In the next shot, however, the feathers are gone and her hair is clean again. See more »
[opening title] Observation: Between 1914 and 1919, war and influenza claimed more than a million lives in Britain alone. Conclusion: This is a time for ghosts. Florence Cathcart "Seeing Through Ghosts" p7 See more »
I found "The Awakening" to be a breath of fresh air for the Horror/Suspense genre. With so many shaky cam, found footage, reality show type horror/suspense movies hitting the box offices and living rooms around the world with poor character development, over the top torture and gore, plots so thin they are the only transparent ghosts in the picture. "The Awakening" is bound to be an instant classic! It's done with just the right amount of restraint, it has a rather Hitchcockian tone to it.What you don't see is far more suspenseful and adds to it.Sometimes less really is more. There is a fine line to walk especially with a ghost story, to achieve that sense of spine tingling, skin crawling feeling and that element can only be teased from the psyche with mystery, not in your face guts or a head being lopped off - that is shock value and gross out, which is perfectly fine for a slasher pic or a grind house movie, but not a good ghost story.
"The Awakening" is set in 1921 England, our Protagonist Florence Cathcart a free thinking, strong willed ghost buster, author and hoax crusher opens this gem of a movie by diving right into the fray. Mediums, psychics and séances' were all the rage during that time period, which began with the religion of spiritualism. Spiritualism developed and reached its peak growth in the 1840's to the 1920's. With many patrons from the Aristocratic and famous class, like Abraham Lincoln joining his wife for a séance after the death of their young son. After WWI many bereaved souls were searching for a connection to loved ones lost either from deadly illness or the horrors of war and were further victimized by unscrupulous charlatans seeking only coin and selling false hope. Florence's main objective is to put a stop to this and shed light and truth on the subject of death, the afterlife and ghosts. But after being invited to a supposedly haunted old grand estate that was converted into a boy's boarding school, with a recent death of a student and a rumor of an old murder and sightings of a ghost, Florence finds much more than school boy pranks and hoaxes - she finds something good, something frightening and something truly enlightening.
The character development in "The Awakening" is done perfectly with solid performances from the entire cast. The cinematography is excellent as is the entire production tip to tail. From sets and wardrobe to the musical score. The research done for the story and time period is what really brings this ghost story to life. It's the small details and creepy little surprises that all add to the reality of the time this story is told and the ensuing mystery. I must also comment on the pacing - this movie wasted no time, it's no action packed, a scare a minute kind of movie, it's far more subtle, but it's never slow or boring and nothing is wasted.
As a true horror/suspense connoisseur (I have a degree in film production and I was a make-up artist/Stylist for print, film and T.V. for 12 years.) I'd like to comment on some of the cynical and negative reviews. One cannot simply lump all horror and suspense films together. There are many subsets of the genre (Slasher, Grind House, Mystery, Supernatural, Creature, Occult, Gothic..etc.)and each has it's own flavor so to speak. You cannot compare a movie like "A nightmare on Elm street" to "The Changeling". Though they are both considered to be horror, one is supernatural slasher and the other is classic ghost story. Even when comparing movies in the same subset like "The house on haunted hill" with "The Haunting" both of which have remakes, have huge differences, usually found in the details and presentation and should be considered unique in their own right. While it may be true that there is nothing new under the sun and we've all seen the same plots and themes over and over again - I have found there is always something new to add to the age old themes.
This movie is in my top 10 of great ghost stories - 8 out of 10 stars for "The Awakening".
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