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Awakening, The


Stars: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Lucy Cohu, Cal Macaninch, John Shrapnel

Director: Nick Murphy

A ghost story, set in 1921, that starts well but loses momentum as it goes along, concentrating on its heroine and her desires to the exclusion of a not-very-convoluted (and progressively incredible) plot.

Florence (Hall) is a ghost-catcher, an exposer of fraudulent seances and the suchlike. After her latest triumph over a ghostly scam, Florence, who secretly grieves for the sweetheart she lost in the Great War, is visited by a master (West) from a school that he says is genuinely haunted by a previously murdered boy.

Florence, who has just written a book called Seeing Through Ghosts (very good!). seems familiar with the school, and soon exposes a hoax ghost there. But there are indeed genuine spirits at work...

You may guess some of the twists here earlier than I did, especially if you've seen The Sixth Sense, but the film needs a more resolute heroine to work better: one longs to concentrate on the haunting rather than on Florence's personal problems.

Performances are pretty par for the course, with Staunton weighing in as a deceptively friendly (rather obviously so) school matron. Colour drained of all primary shades doesn't really help to create a creepy atmosphere for a film that will look best on late-night TV.

David Quinlan

UK 2011. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour by Panalux.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Nov 2011