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A ghost story for grown-ups
7/10 Between 1914 and 1919, one million people lost their lives to influenza. Society was more ignorant back then. Science and rational thinking were not then the forces they are today. People were open to anything, including the possibility of ghosts.5 years ago
Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) stands out in the London of the twenties for being a free-thinker and a debunker of the supernatural. A boarding school teacher (Dominic West) implores her to visit his school following the death of a pupil, where unexplained sightings are being reported.
Florence isn't a total sceptic. She leaves some room for belief, which caused me to note she is agnostic towards ghosts. Essentially, there are two stories. One is concerning the death of the pupil. The other is more interesting and distinguishes it from a deluge of other horror films which have vanished from my mind as quickly as the ghostly apparitions in them. It focuses on Florence herself, and I shall say no more as I will not spoil it for you.
This is not a scary film; there are several portents but few frights. What there is plenty of, however, is suspense. Nick Murphy, in his feature-length debut, also manages to sustain a melancholy mood, crucial for his story.
It's no surprise that Rebecca is the daughter of Peter Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She commands the screen in a way which would cause many of her peers to blush with envy. Her character is a difficult one to personify.
Dominic West, he with the simian countenance from the groundbreaking crime series 'The Wire', is very good as the guilt-ridden soldier-turned-teacher. Imelda Staunton is effective as the school matron. She has that look in her eye which is trying to tell us something.
I'm calling this a grown-up film because the spiritual element becomes auxiliary. Guilt and loneliness take over as leading themes. Murphy has the acuity to drop the ghost story because otherwise it would be a simulacrum of other period chillers and focuses on a story of locked emotion. The denouement is clever and original. The penultimate revelation would have been a superb ending on its own, so having a double-twist is all the more impressive.
Fantastic film to make you squirm whilst you think!!
10/10 Just saw this at an advance preview and it is fantastic. If you like your a fan of Spanish horror like The Orphanage of Hierro then you will love this.5 years ago
Delibrately hiding key facts throughout the film to keep you guessing so ignore the reviews here trying to compare this to Paranormal Activity 3. This is a film where you have to use your brain, you have to concentrate and let the film take you on a journey and if you do then you will be justly rewarded with a scary ghost story.
It builds and builds to an excellent ending , you just need a little bit of patience and a little bit of brain power to get you there.
Gorgeous cinematography, muddled plot.
5/10 I love old-fashioned ghost stories, both in literature and in moving picture. It's a harder genre than people give credit to, especially because it's age. Since it has been done to death, almost every possibility and approach seems to have been covered. However, there are movies that have taken the this tired formula and made splendid films - The Orphanage is a good example of a ghost story done right. The Awakening started off right. The acting was good, the mood was efficiently set and the cinematography gorgeous to look at. I was many times at absolute awe at the beautiful images and camera shots that the movie boosted. However, the central thing in a movie is it's plot, and that's where things get shaky. The plot wasn't that great to begin with and as it progressed became less interesting, managing nonetheless to sustain my interest throughout until the end, which was by far the film's greatest weakness. The ending "twist" came too late and was done with too much haste, which hurt it's already shaky believability. I think the ending despite being far-fetched could still work if done more competently and with more preparation. It's still an enjoyable movie, but the beautiful and eerie imagery would be much better served by a better plot. All in all, a solid 5 for the film, 10 for the cinematography. This cinematographer deserves to be well known, assuming he isn't already.5 years ago
a must see for those who like being intrigued
9/10 I can't believe I almost didn't see this movie based on the lower rating and negative reviews. What a shame that would have been! There are always plenty of long reviews, so I won't bore you with mine.5 years ago
This movie was absolutely wonderful. It has some drama, suspenseful music and scenes from start to finish, and even a bit of romance (but not nearly enough to make this a romantic or "chick" movie).
Each of the chosen actors were perfect for their part and they portrayed assigned characters beautifully. They were very likable and believable.
I'm not going to compare this movie with any other, but if you're like me and love movies such as The Sixth Sense, Shutter Island, Inception, Dream House, etc... I promise you will love this movie as well. You also, like me, may decide to immediately watch it the 2nd time to see if there are any clues you missed preparing you for the last 15 minutes of movie.
Out of over 700 movies in my collection, only 32 have a 10 star rating. This movie comes VERY close to that category. Definitely a must see!
Ghosts in every closet.
9/10 Ghost debunking author, spiritual hoax nemesis and early benefactor of the suffragette movement, Florence, is invited to a boys boarding school where the children are terrorised by a phantom child and the teachers by the aftermath of WW1. She is to debunk the ghost story and return the school to business as usual.5 years ago
A rational explanation quickly reveals itself, through the simple application of Holmesian deduction, a chemistry, set and some bells on strings. However, haunted by her personal sense of guilt and loss, Florence finds the rational solution unsatisfactory and searches instead for an antidote to her own suffering.
Haunting cinematography, a strong cast and a story line which supports both suspense and character depth, enable this film to stand alongside "the orphanage" and "the Others" rather than being shadowed by them.
Winner of the Jury Prize at the Gerardmer Film Festival in France.