The Awakening

Visually grey and yes chilly, and sort
of sleepy.
"All the children are gone... except one."

Heyo everyone, welcome back to Thursday at the good ol' Tagline. Today was damp and gloomy, and so I figured I'd pick a movie that was also those two things more than much of anything else. The Awakening stars Rebecca Hall, who I was just talking about when I reviewed Iron Man 3, as Florence Cathcart, a published author on supernatural hoaxes, who is called to investigate a possible haunting at a boarding school after a child dies. Florence gets to the bottom of the mystery, but in the process, is drawn into something substantially stranger. Ms. Cathcart is alone at the boarding school while it is on break, except for herself, the housekeeper Imelda, Robert Mallory, the man who called her to the school, the groundskeeper, and a boy named Tom, who seems lonely and sort of weird and fixated on Florence in a not strictly normal fashion. What follows is a chilling, visually sumptuous, lithium paced stumble through spooky English Town, at a pace one might generously refer to as glacial.

Like the color back there? Don't get
used to it.
Yes, to say that the movie is "moody and atmospheric" would be a generous way of saying that it probably could have been about 45 minutes long, if it hadn't spent about 30-40 extra minutes dickering about a spooky boarding school while "unexplained things" happen. They aren't really all that unexplained, and I certainly had plenty of time to think about what they might mean while almost literally nothing was happening in the actual movie. For instance, I suppose the Sixth Sense thing going on was supposed to be a startling surprise for me. I was supposed to be like "OH MAN no one talks to this kid except Florence and the old lady, I BET HE IS A GHOST DUH" Yeah that's right folks, ghost boy make a spectacular experience. Then we experience even more TWIST, when we discover apparently the ghost boy is her dead brother? Also the boarding school was her parent's house, and her dad went crazy and killed the rest of her family. The movie reveals all of these details in the last like 15 minutes of this 108 minute long experience. I think that is a plot line sucker punch if I've ever seen one. It's all well and good to go for the big reveal, but it still was lame. It wasn't totally out of the blue as I mentioned, because the movie is so leisurely about getting anywhere, but the idea of Ms. Cathcart ending up called to her home that she has suppressed all memory of, for an apparently TOTALLY unrelated reason? Well that seems REALLY PLAUSIBLE MOVIE THANKS.

Now that washed out palette looks much better.
It also can't resist the urge to be cutesy right at the end. The movie acts like Florence is going to die, and then... ooh is she dead? Better yet I read several reactions that suggested that the movie left it ambiguous. Given that she greets several children and then talks to Mallory before leaving the grounds, I'd say it was unambiguous that the movie was just fucking with you one last time before it came clean and finally ended. An act that I was fairly grateful for.

So I've said a ton of negative shit about the movie, but I mean, it wasn't actively bad. It wasn't really actively anything and that was the problem. I sort of just didn't pay much attention to it while it was happening. It wasn't interesting enough to keep close track of, and while it did establish a moody atmosphere, and everyone delivered serviceable performances, it was ultimately weighed down by nearly nothing happennig, and the thing that finally DID happen just wasn't very original.

Only an Englishman would go swimming in a waistcoat.
If you need something sort of spooky to play in the background while you are taking a nap, then this movie is probably a decent choice. If you want a movie that's interesting, or innovative, or anything of that sort, probably keep on looking. Rebecca Hall was a lot more interesting in Iron Man 3, and Dominic West was way more interesting in... John Carter I guess? I don't know. Centurion? Either. Watch either of those instead, even Centurion. 

That's all for today! Join me next week, when I talk about flies from another dimension.

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