The Awakening

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In the aftermath of World War I, a "hoax exposer" (Hall) travels to an English boarding school to reveal the truth about a supposed ghost.


Beginning with a séance that hints at a strong supernatural element that it will never deliver, this British chiller features strong performances and an over-complex script that all but degenerates into far-fetched nonsense. Rebecca Hall plays Florence Cathcart, a professional debunker of the occult who is brought in by Dominic West to investigate strange goings-on at his boarding school. Orphanage-style scares follow, as the boys claim to witness the ghost of a deceased pupil, and Hall makes a convincing sleuth as she combs the halls for clues. The film’s excellent BBC production values only delay the inevitable, however, and a trite twist ending will have you longing for the more honest pulp thrills of Scorsese’s superior Shutter Island.

Solid production values lend a polish to the spooks and there are strong performances all round, especially from the ever-excellent Rebecca Hall, but there's little here to add to the well-worn haunted house genre.