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Mixed or average reviews - based on 24 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 25 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , , ,
  • Summary: Set in London in 1921, Florence Cathcart, 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 fiance, she is approached by Robert Mallory 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. (Cohen Media Group)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 24
  2. Negative: 3 out of 24
  1. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Aug 17, 2012
    75
    The self-possessed Hall is well-suited to this proto-feminist role, smoking and rolling her eyes as the pasty old men around her exclaim, for what is clearly the millionth time, "An educated woman!" as if she were a zoo animal.
  2. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Aug 16, 2012
    70
    The film benefits enormously from having the luminous Rebecca Hall as its lead. It also gains an ominous gravity from the haunted, wounded and wobbly England in which it's set.
  3. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Aug 8, 2012
    67
    Not to be confused with a dramatization of Kate Chopin's great 1899 proto-feminist novel, this by-the-numbers British ghost story, set just after WWI, devotes a lot of energy to set decoration.
  4. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Aug 16, 2012
    58
    As ghost stories go, this one's done just well enough to provide reminders of how it has been done better.
  5. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Aug 16, 2012
    50
    Most of the supernatural sightings are flickers at the corners of the screen, so that at certain moments watching the movie feels like taking an eye exam. You see it, then you don't. But the film is not especially scary, and even its boo! moments lack a visceral shock.
  6. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Aug 6, 2012
    50
    Though handsome to look at, so-so supernatural chiller The Awakening recalls "The Others," "The Orphanage" and other haunted-house tales of recent vintage, making an impression more derivative than memorable.
  7. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Aug 15, 2012
    25
    The film takes pains to ensure that the story feel like laborious toil rather than a trip through the dark side of the ethereal.

See all 24 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 8
  2. Negative: 1 out of 8
  1. Aug 7, 2013
    9
    If you're looking for cat scares, you'll be disappointed. If you're looking for a film with atmosphere, impending horror, excellent plot twists, and British pacing, you're in luck. Expand
  2. Feb 4, 2013
    7
    This film shows that we can still make original horror films and not just relay the same old trash. The plot was strong and the acting paid off. I definite must watch. Expand
  3. Jan 30, 2013
    7
    This film is a good example of how modern horror films could be more original, rather than stick to the norm found on today's screens. Delivering itself like an early 1900s adaptation, the film captures the feel of the era through its sets, locations and costume design. Although the scares are sometimes expected, what's fresh here is the addition of tension created through the brilliant sound editing and score. There is certainly a bigger inclusion of drama than a lot of other horro films, to help the audience connect with our heroine through character development. Atmospheric, dark and creep, The Awakening is a tense post-WWI gothic horror which I would consider in the same vein as The Woman In Black. Expand
  4. Aug 29, 2012
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The first half of the movie is outstanding, which makes it much more of a shame that the second half is so shallow and unoriginal.

    It begins in the early 1920s. Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is a wealthy, university educated, strong, independent, opinionated woman (and published author) who has made a name for herself discrediting spiritualists, debunking hauntings etc.

    What makes her stand out, though, is that she's not simply a typical one-dimensional cardboard cutout. Early on, particularly, she shows an intense frailty despite her strong outward demeanor. Having lost a young man during the war, inside she's a mess, crumbling with guilt over her betrayal of a man who loved her, and his subsequent death in the war. They never say it, but it seems that in her fiery desire to discredit ghosts, she's passionately looking for faith, for proof of life beyond death, for proof that the man who loved her isn't simply spoiled meat under the ground. Each time she finds proof that the ghost is a hoax, she crumbles just a little more, even to the point of losing all will to live.

    She's met by the admirably subtle Robert Malory (Dominic West). His outward strength, like hers, is a facade. He takes tremendous pains to hide a mild stutter and a slight limp. He tells Florence of a ghost haunting the boarding school where he teaches, and mildly bullies her into coming to debunk it so that the young boys at the school can sleep at night, yet it's obvious that HE believes in an actual spirit.

    One of the things that touched me, were the performances of Dominic West and especially Shaun Dooley, who played the abusive teacher Malden McNair. There's a scene where Malory (West) suddenly becomes awkward and excuses himself. He goes to his room and begins shaking uncontrollably, in what looks like an epileptic seizure. Bearing in mind, he's a WWI veteran, I imagined it was the long-term after-effects of nerve gas. It's the kind of detail most people wouldn't think of in writing a character for a movie such as this. McNair, for all his bluster, is likewise frail. He suffers a chronic cough. TB? Or damaged lungs? At one point, after admitting bullying a student mercilessly, he pleads with Malory that he didn't want to coddle the boys, that he wanted them to grow up strong, and "not like us." Again, I was touched by the sensitivity, the awareness of how the tremendous fear one experiences in war can be completely unmanning, debilitating even years later.

    But even for al the magnificently subtle characterization and plot weaving, about halfway though the movie, it was almost as if the writers threw up their hands in despair and said "Where can we possibly go from here?" The second half of the movie virtually ignores the subtle build-up of the first half, and instead we have a few cheap and unnecessary dramatics, a rather awkward and (in my opinion) out of place and unnecessary sex scene, followed by a rather desperate sewing together of plot pieces from The Sixth Sense, The Others and The Haunting.

    The movie had good suspense, but the plot just seemed to take a ridiculous turn in the second half, and not even an original turn. The actors and actresses, particularly those mentioned above and also Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Tom, were fantastic. Not a bad movie, but disappointing.
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  5. Nov 28, 2013
    4
    The movie was alright and was no better then the paranormal activity franchise, The paranormal activity movies are more entertaining then this and the trailer may be more entertaining. This movie was dull, boring and wasn't original but it had good editing and acting and that contributed a lot to the value of the production and story. Story 2/10, Editing 8/10, Camera shot and composition 5/10, Acting 9/10, sound and boom operation 6/10, sound mixing 5/10, Entertaining 1./10. Expand
  6. Sep 26, 2013
    4
    Why they didn't make a full movie about what the first half of the movie is about.......... has "lost opportunity" written all over it.

    As
    it is, The Awakening seems like 3 different movies. You've seen 2 of them and you don't want to see them again. I'm obliged to blame the script, though plenty of people who could have turned the project down went ahead and made the script. Expand
  7. Jun 9, 2013
    3
    The Awakening, although having an excellent setting and brandishing some fine actors, falls short of being a good horror-thriller as it steps from one cliche into another, causing the movie to feel long-winded. Expand

See all 8 User Reviews