Thursday, August 30, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: The Awakening

2011, Nick Murphy (British TV guy) -- download

The last British ghost story I saw disappointed me, not in execution but in completion.  It just didn't end as well as I hoped.  This is another British ghost story with familiar British faces and an interesting premise -- what if an Edwardian age debunker of ghosts and mediums is presented with a real ghost?  Its a great premise, but one that the movie surprisingly didn't build on.  Once we are in the actual ghost story, we are all transported to a very real, very confirmed state of "there is a ghost and we should be scared."  There is no need for debunking, I guess.

Florence Cathcart is much like Arthur Kipps from The Woman in Black, in that he lost someone close to him and has been desperate to somehow reconnect with them.  Unlike Kipps who just runs from one charlatan to the next, Cathcart is pissed.  As the movie opens, she is working with the London police force exposing a medium for what she really is, a fraud using all the latest tricks to fool broken-hearted people seeking some connection to a lost loved one.  And then Cathcart is approached by Robert Mallory (Dominic West) who needs her help at a boys' school he works at.  A ghost, or the belief there is one, has caused the death of a child at the school and he wants the ghost revealed as fear, and nothing but fear.  The weird thing is that he actually believes there is a ghost.  She reluctantly goes.

This is not really a scary ghost story, almost having the tone of The Orphanage, sentimental and sad, focused on the emotions of broken, lost people.  Cathcart needs to find some way to reconnect with the lover she denied who then died at war.  She wants to believe in an afterlife where her lover is at rest, but is caught in a malaise of atheism.  Mallory is a war survivor, guilty and haunted by the friends he lost in battle.  We find out exactly how haunted he is.  The tale goes from chilling, but mostly lacking in the cliche jumps, to mournful to strangely even more haunted but I was morosely satisfied with the ending.  Are there ghosts to be dealt with? Yes.  Do we put them to rest and remove the danger?  Yes.  But not as you would have expected.