Run Time: 107 min.
Director: Nick Murphy
Set in London in 1921, Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), author of the popular book “Seeing Through Ghosts,” has devoted her career to exposing claims of the supernatural as nothing but hoaxes. Haunted by the recent death of her fiancé, she is approached by Robert Mallory (Dominic West) to investigate the recent death of a student at the all-boys boarding school where he teaches. When students at the school report sightings of the young boy’s ghost, she decides to take on the case. Initially, the mystery surrounding the ghost appears nothing more than a schoolboy prank, but as Florence continues to investigate events at the school, she begins to believe that her reliance on science may not be enough to explain the strange phenomenon going on around her.
Thanks to the fine people at BBC Films there is a shinny gem in the garbage can that is late summer early fall movie season. The Awakening is a beautifully written suspenseful ghost story that has you guessing all the way to the end of the movie. While you may not recognize many of the actors names in the film, you will very likely know who they are once you see them on the big screen as all of them have had roles in some of the best BBC television series ever and many of them have also been seen on some of the biggest shows in the US (Game Of Thrones and The Wire). The setting of the movie take place at boarding school for boys that used to be the home of a well to do family that moved away after a horrible accident (keep this bit of information in your back pocket). As the story develops we begin to see that every single character in the story in dealing with some type of demons from their past which creates a level of suspense that is palpable. This suspense makes the viewer begin to see just how our heroine (Rebecca Hall) has gone out of her way to prove the whole “existence of ghosts” as nothing more than folly while at the same time you begin to question each of the characters as to whether or not they are responsible for the incidents at the school.
This movie is everything that makes the BBC Films division is famous for telling amazing stories with outstanding casts in great locations. It is in start contrast to the suspense, ghost story that we see being churned out by many studios in the US (Paranormal Activity) that lack any level of depth when it comes to the story and the actors. I only wish the Awakening had the ability to awaken American studios into creating high quality suspenseful ghost stories. Like I said, one can only wish!
Final Grade: B+