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The Awakening (2012)



Average Rating: 5.1/10
Critic Reviews: 21
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 14

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 15,096

My Rating

Movie Info

Set in London in 1921, Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), author of the popular book "Seeing Through Ghosts," has devoted her career to exposing claims of the supernatural as nothing but hoaxes. Haunted by the recent death of her fiancé, she is approached by Robert Mallory (Dominic West) to investigate the recent death of a student at the all-boys boarding school where he teaches. When students at the school report sightings of the young boy's ghost, she decides to take on the case. Initially,

Jan 29, 2013


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All Critics (66) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (26) | DVD (1)

Though the story spirals a little out of control in the film's final scenes, "The Awakening" offers the low-key pleasures of an old-fashioned thriller and a lovely central performance.

August 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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August 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (5)
Chicago Sun-Times
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The cast is anchored by two wonderful actresses: Imelda Staunton and Rebecca Hall, whose talents are squandered on this lackluster horror drama.

August 23, 2012 Full Review Source: USA Today
USA Today
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When these sudden surprises work, as in "A Beautiful Mind" or "The Others," you're too stunned to swallow that next handful of popcorn; when they don't, you're tempted to throw your whole box at the screen.

August 17, 2012 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
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A dull British import that never lives up to the pretensions of its period setting.

August 17, 2012 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An enjoyably old-fashioned ghost story in the vein of "The Others" and "The Orphanage."

August 17, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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a ghost story that wants to be more than just a ghost story, but in the process of trying to be a movie that transcends a genre, it insults the genre

June 9, 2013 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

The Awakening glides ghost-like through its story, laying its own elaborate traps along the way.

February 11, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

The Awakening is a handsome, well-acted thriller with a script that's never cringe-inducing. So why did it sneak its way onto home video with no fanfare?

February 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

[Rebecca Hall] captures Florence's flinty intelligence and the vulnerability that emerges as she slowly discovers the school's dark secrets.

August 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

Pretty good, but more pretty than good.

August 30, 2012 Full Review Source: RedEye

A concise little old-school British ghost story, and I say there's always room for a few more of those.

August 28, 2012 Full Review Source: FEARnet

Murphy exhibits a deft touch for a first-timer and can feel satisfied that his film honours the tradition of such spooky Brit works as The Haunting and The Innocents.

August 27, 2012 Full Review Source: Screen-Space

... manages some effectively creepy imagery along with a few clever plot twists.

August 24, 2012 Full Review Source:

Exquisite production design and admirable performances can't overcome the lackluster scares.

August 22, 2012 Full Review Source:

Murphy shows tremendous skill with genre elements, helping The Awakening to overcome its formulaic origins, keeping attention on panic and skepticism, not just on cheap thrills.

August 22, 2012 Full Review Source:

Though slightly undone by a twist that demands a grain or two too much credulity on the part of the viewer, it nonetheless triumphs as a tone poem of an unsettled zeitgeist that plays cat-and-mouse with that same viewer right until the very end.

August 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Killer Movie Reviews
Killer Movie Reviews

A strong, moving performance by Rebecca Hall coupled with an eerie atmosphere thanks to the top-notch cinematography provides enough palpable tension and scares to compensate for its weak, convoluted ending.

August 18, 2012 Full Review Source: NYC Movie Guru
NYC Movie Guru

While it offers more goosebumps than gasps, it's a pleasurable reminder of the sort of discreet supernatural thriller that was once a staple but is now, unhappily, a rarity.

August 18, 2012 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

The big climactic reveal intended to explain the entire movie ends up being both confusing and ridiculous.

August 17, 2012 Full Review Source: Television Without Pity
Television Without Pity

West is so underused, he barely gets to raise an eyebrow in this watchable but pedestrian film, with Hall ghostbusting in a Downton Abbey setting. Cliched and never chilling.

August 17, 2012 Full Review Source: James on screenS
James on screenS

Audience Reviews for The Awakening

A more than average British thriller that excites the senses.
December 20, 2013
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

Maud Hill: There's no place on earth people understand loneliness better than here.

"All the children are gone... except one."

The Awakening is less of a horror film than one would be led to believe. However, its horror elements are pretty well done. For one, the setting is magnificent. An old and extremely large former home, that has been made into a boarding school is the setting of the story and it looks great on the inside and out. Also, while the atmosphere seemed a little low-key for the setting and story, there was still that feeling of helplessness. The best piece of the horror elements is the character Maud though, and how we perceive her at different parts of the movie. Also, the actress who plays her couldn't look creepier.

Florence is a woman whose life is disproving ghost stories. She's even written a book called "Seeing Through Ghosts." When a man named Robert shows up at her home and tells her about the ghost troubles in his boarding school, she leaves with him to investigate. Once there, she meets an admirer and the schools "nanny," Maud. As she investigates the house she thinks she has pinpointed the culprit in this case, but when all the children leave except for one, she's left feeling like she hasn't figured it out quite yet.

While, The Awakening has its share of problems, it's still a well done, if messy film. The messiness comes in spurts and when it's messy, it's really fucking messy. Somehow though, it all seems to clean itself up by the end of the film and I was left oddly satisfied, when similar endings have left me disappointed. Plus, Rebecca Hall in the lead as Florence is terrific as always, and also beautiful as always. 

This ones worth a look if you love setting type horror films that are twisty. It isn't anything all that original, but it somehow feels like a movie type that you've never seen before. This is weird as I could name countless movies that are extremely similar, but fuck it, it was pretty good. I think this is a movie that could surprise people who give it a chance. I know I didn't expect anything from it and the only real reason I gave it a chance was because of Rebecca Hall's presence. 
June 1, 2013
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Despite the promising beginning and the solid art direction, this conventional ghost story never rises above its clearly derivative narrative - which, among many deficiencies, tries to be clever with a lame (and unnecessary) twist but is only convoluted and obvious.
December 22, 2012

Super Reviewer

Totally unexpected ending. Was scary and also entertaining.
June 28, 2012
Dead Angel

Super Reviewer

    1. Robert Mallory: These boys aren't worried about bumps in the night. They are frighted... to death.
    – Submitted by Chris P (20 months ago)
    1. Florence Cathcart: You can't hunt what doesn't exist.
    – Submitted by Chris P (20 months ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

  • The Awakening (1980) (DE)
  • The Awakening (1980) (UK)
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