My wife and I had a couple stressful days earlier this week and decided to wind down by putting the kids to be early and watching a scary movie. After scrolling through our Netflix options, we ultimately decided to watch the 2011 film “The Awakening.”
Since this movie, which stars Rebecca Hall as a skeptic trying to debunk a ghost at a 1921 British boarding school, had a paranormal theme to it, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve watched quite a few similar movies that just weren’t as scary as promised and didn’t know if this movie would fall into that same category or not. As it turns out, it was actually one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long time.
There were two things that really stood out for me when it came to this film. The first was the strong female lead role. I have always liked stronger characters (both male and female) in horror movies because it has much more of an impact when they start to show fear and panic. And, for her part, Hall does a fantastic job portraying a woman who shows plenty of confidence around others only to have some weak moments in private. It made her character much more believable.
Another thing I liked about this movie was the mystery. At first, it was hard to tell if there really was a ghost or if there was some sort of prank going on. Later, when it was obvious there was a spirit, there was still the mystery about his identity and why Maud and Tom (Imelda Staunton and Isaac Hempstead Wright) seemed to know more than they were letting on. And, I have to admit, I was surprised as anyone when the movie revealed the answers. That doesn’t happen very often.
If I had any complaints about this movie, it would be the couple scenes with partial nudity/sexual acts. This isn’t something that is normally going to make me dislike a film. But, in this particular case, those scenes didn’t really seem to fit. Instead, they looked like they were thrown in just for the heck of it and didn’t do much for the overall plot.
Overall though, I thought this was a good movie. I was admittedly skeptical when we started watching it, but it turned out to be a pretty decent horror film and I would recommend it.
My Grade: B