Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Awakening, dir. Nick Murphy, scr. Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy, st. Dominic West, Rebecca Hall, Imelda Staunton

Writer Stephen Volk is probably best remembered as the man responsible for leaving as all blanched and beshitten after the BBC's disowned thriller Ghostwatch  in 1992, yet it's strange that following a project so ahead of its time, predating as it did The Blair Witch Project and all manner of subsequent reality-blurring chillers, he should pen such a derivative and unordinary ghostly tale as this. Surely, I kept telling myself, there was going to end up being more to this than merely a reveal we've already seen in similar tales of the supernatural? And annoyingly, frustratingly, there wasn't. And it's a real pity too. True, there's nothing new about fog-shrouded, lake-fronted country estates as backdrops for bump-in-the-nights, but cinematographer Eduard Grau desaturates and drains all available colour making the whole thing feel like we're peering through a genuine period pea-souper, and all three principles turn in suitably spooky performances, it's just a shame the payoff is so jaw-droppingly predictable. Rebecca Hall is such a fascinating watch too, half the time seeming like she's stepped off the set of a totally different film altogether, yet somehow making the awkward detachment work with her character's sense of loner isolation. An enjoyable thriller then, but it's not half the film it might have been.