After checking out the glut of dreadful reviews for Dream House, but still in the mood for a spooker, I jumped tracks to investigate The Awakening instead.
Wise move. With the smart PR money being pumped into getting you to cough up for Dream House and The Woman in Black still some time away, there’s no better way to see a scary movie than when it’s not been shoved down your throat.
What we find is a typically British premise: skeptical ghost hunter, very large house (in this case one that is now a boarding school), a little love interest and of course, a ghost. That makes it sound like a cheap knock-off of every ghost story movie you can shake a stick at, but it’s far from it. The Awakening is in fact a class act with more than liberal doses of originality and more than its fair share of the frighteners – it’s been a long time since more than a single set-piece
made me jump.
There are some beautiful pieces and themes running through the movie and, for the absolute majority of the movie, it pulls off the near impossible task of having you believe that the story isn’t going to end well at all.
Whether it does or not would be to lift the spoiler curtain and The Awakening deserves more respect than that. With fine performances all round – particularly from Rebecca Hall – and a pretty flawless production, this will be the finest ghost story you’ve seen in a long, long time.
I consider The Orphanage and The Haunting (the original thank you for asking) the greatest ghost story movies of all time. The Awakening sits very, very comfortably at number three, but if I were to suggest you could squeeze a bus through that gap and you are able to read between the lines, you’ll know what I’m saying here.
Go see it. You won’t regret it at all. The Woman in Black will need to be playing at the top of its game to knock The Awakening from its perch.