In 1921, in London, the arrogant and skeptical Florence Cathcart is famous for exposing hoaxes and helping the police to arrest con artists. The stranger Robert Mallory tells her that the headmaster of a boarding school in Rookford had invited her to travel to Cumbria to investigate a ghost that is frightening the pupils to death. He also tells that many years ago there was a murder in the estate and recently pupil Walter Portman had died. The reluctant Florence finally accepts to go to Cumbria. On arrival, she is welcomed by governess Maud and the boy Thomas Hill. Soon Florence discovers what had happened to Walter and then the students, teachers and staff are released on vacation, and Florence remains alone with Robert, Maud and Tom in the school. Florence is ready to leave the boarding school when strange things happen, leaving Florence scared.
"Here is a supernatural melodrama in the tradition of The Innocents, or Alejandro Amenábar's The Others. Rebecca Hall plays Florence Cathcart, a campaigning rationalist and hoax-buster in 1919, exposing phoney spiritualists who prey on credulous souls tormented with postwar grief. Then schoolmaster Robert Mallory (Dominic West) asks her to investigate a tragic case at his boarding school: a sickly boy has reportedly died of fright at seeing a ghostly child with a "twisted face". Florence accepts, suspecting some deception, or group hysteria. But naturally things are not as clear as that. I have to say I found the final, colossal revelation to be contrived, but there are some nicely creepy moments, and director and co-writer Nick Murphy interestingly dramatises some of the neuroses feeding the appetite for ghostly phenomena – repressed sexuality, guilt and self-harm."
"Rarely does a horror film make the back of your neck tingle with the calibre of its performances as well as its jumps and jolts – but The A...
"Rarely does a horror film make the back of your neck tingle with the calibre of its performances as well as its jumps and jolts – but The Awakening, a beautifully mounted ghost story in the style of The Turn of the Screw, provides chills of both kinds. (...) While The Awakening is plotted more like a mystery than a horror film, it’s not short on shivery moments, which include a hackle-raising set piece involving a doll’s house and a coda much subtler than the simple twist ending it initially appears to be. Continuing the welcome craze for haunted-house films, a new version of The Woman in Black is due in February. It’ll do well to match this."