This movie starts out with our heroine, Florence Cathcart, debunking a seance, much to the dismay of the people involved.
Then, we find her at home, and the headmaster to a boys school shows up on her doorstep asking for her help to clear up a mystery of a local legend of a dead boy. The reason for the continued existence of this legend proved problematic for the headmaster to dispel because there are no records of the boy's death due to the fact the place used to be a private home. That means, the death may actually have occurred. The headmaster tried to ignore the problem, but the recent death of a boy made that impossible.
I'll post my review of this film once I've finished watching... :)
Okay, I finished watching, but I wouldn't classify this is a horror or a thriller. To me, this is just a ghost story.
So, why do I feel it's not scary or a thriller?
Well, because I've seen similar stories told in movies. Not only that, but it didn't rattle me.
What movies did rattle me?
Poltergeist (1982, IMDB)
The Amityville Horror (1979, IMDB)
[I've seen the newer versions, and this one is still the scariest one to me. The others just try too hard and fail.]
When a Stranger Calls (1979, IMDB)
Halloween (1978, my review)
Halloween (1978, IMDB)
Rosemary's Baby (1968, IMDB)
That is one of my biggest pet peeves with newer movies. They have a tendency to overuse elements like misdirection and "let's throw a surprise element in here, it will scare them;" not to mention omens and foreshadowing. When elements like these are overused in movies (or even books and stories), the opposite happens - they don't become more effective, but less.
This is where I'm reminded of a quote from the movie Sabrina (the remake with Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford), "More isn't always better, sometimes it's just more."
1. Overuse of misdirection does one thing - point directly to the killer! Kind of ruins the suspense and intrigue.
2. Too much foreshadowing and/or too many omens give the entire story away, leaving the watcher/reader with a, "now that I know what's going to happen, why should I continue to watch/read?" feeling.
3. Surprises tend to lose their effect because the watcher/reader begins to expect them, and will eventually become predictable in an, "I bet it's going to happen right now!" or "The cat will jump out here because it's too early for the bad guy to show up again."
In a sense, too much of typical story elements turns them into cliches. In fact, a cat jumping out at people to lull the audience into a false sense of security while offering a silly scare has become cliche because of how often it's overused.
Coming back to The Awakening, with all this in mind, I can see why it didn't rattle me - it relied on the "scare" factor too much. I realize that some audiences need to have continual action with very little character development or plot, I need that. Plus, I didn't buy the eventually revealed premise. I understood what they were trying to do, but it just didn't work. I felt that dream sequences/nightmares would have been better than the method used in the movie.
I won't say anymore, or I'll give too much away...if I haven't already done that.
It's a decent ghost movie and entertaining, but I didn't find it scary or thrilling.