The Awakening (2011)

Link: The Awakening

Summary: A woman who debunks ghost myths investigates a boarding school said to be haunted by an evil ghost child, hoping to help calm the frightened boys there.  But when it becomes apparent that this ghost is quite real, she realizes she’ll have to find a different way to end the school’s haunting.

Thoughts: Grrr!  This film made me angry.  It had a lot of potential.  It feels like the filmmaker’s spark of inspiration was something special.  But it’s completely ruined by a horribly plotted ending.  A huge chunk of backstory exposition has to be suddenly introduced for the ending to make sense, and it’s all just so out-of-nowhere that the emotional power of the ending is squashed completely.  The brain has to process too much information too suddenly that the otherwise powerful emotion it would have evoked is destroyed.  It makes me angry because it would have been such an awesome, tragic, powerful, beautiful ending if it had only been set up right.  That said, I’m not sure how I would fix it.  It would be very tricky.  Certainly, the huge chunk of backstory that is revealed at the end would have to come much sooner, perhaps at the very beginning of the film as a prologue.  Perhaps I’d make it more like The Devil’s Backbone and reveal the nature of the ghost in the first act.  I don’t know.  I’d have to play around with the possibilities.  Anyway, the film had some other weaknesses as well, but the nature of the film’s climax is my biggest complaint, especially as I think the idea they were going for is so awesome.  They just did it ineffectively.

The film did have some strengths.  I enjoyed the look and feel of the film, the historic atmosphere.  For some reason, that historic era just seems more ghostly in and of itself.  The story would not at all have worked in modern day.  There are some genuinely creepy moments that work wonderfully, especially the jump moments.  Those are always a bit hit-or-miss for me in these sorts of films, but they worked really well in this film.  The music was great, especially its use of choirs.  And overall, the story manages to stay engaging throughout, even if the ending is messed up.