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Review: The Awakening

This is not really a horror film. That is not to say that it does not have it share of tension and scares but just that this film deals more with grief than with horror. Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is an author who is interested with investigating paranormal claims and is especially obsessed with busting fake mediums scamming members of the public. The film starts with her busting one group and having them all arrested because pulling these sorts of scams used to be illegal in Britain. This is in 1921 and it is only 3 years after the end of the First World War where Britain nearly lost an entire generation of young people to a war conducted by rich people sitting in map rooms. There is a lot of grief and desperation for these ghouls to feed on but the victim of the con is not happy about the bust. The fake mediums were selling the woman hope but Florence has nothing but cold hard reality to offer.

Florence is a bit of an evangelist of science and rationality but she hates her victories against the supernatural because Florence lost her fiancé in the war and each time she finds a logical explanation or con trick to explain away any mysteries she comes across it confirms her belief and fear that death is really the end and that this is all there is.

She gets a visit from John Mallory (Dominic West) a history teacher at a boy’s boarding school. He wants to use her skills to bust the ghost stories at the school which have led to one boy at the school dying because of his fear of the ghost. She has been recommended to the school’s headmaster by the school’s matron who is a big fan of Florence’s books. Mallory himself is not a fan. He shows Florence the school photographs and each year the same ghostly figure can be seen at the end of the group of a boy the same age as the boys at the school. This intrigues her and she agrees to investigate the school.

At the school she gets introduced to the groundskeeper Edward Judd (Joseph Mawle) who drives Florence and Mallory from the station. Florence detects a frosty attitude between the men and it turns out that while Mallory fought in the war and was injured and lost all his friends Judd avoided being conscripted. At the school we see another teacher McNair (Shaun Dooley) who is supervising the boys while they run across the school’s grounds and he coughs and downs tonic. The matron Maud Hill (Imelda Staunton) is waiting for them at the entrance and she almost seems star-struck to meet Florence. Mallory takes Florence inside to introduce her to the headmaster Reverend Purslow (John Shrapnel) who greets her then leaves her in the care of Mallory.

Florence gets he equipment set up and start investigating the ghostly mystery that scared a boy to death. She does succeed in uncovering schoolboy pranks and doe manage to solve the mystery of the boy’s death but she has a sense that she is missing something and investigates further. Any more about the story would be a spoiler but I was not very satisfied with the way the film turned out in the last the third when the film springs a little twist on us. I may change my mind about this but I thought it was just not up to the standard set by the first two-thirds of the film. I’ll probably see it again because I think this film does need more than one viewing just to see if questions I have about the story are actually answered. If you like low moody ghost stories that are light in blood you may enjoy this.There is some sex and nudity both male and female so that’s either a warning or a bit of fan service.

Rating 7/10

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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Hellraiser – Revelations

The New Pinhead

A ninth Hellraiser film is not a surprise but its not something to look forward to either. There had been all sots of noises recently  of a re-make in the works but now that seems to have stalled. I’m not sure how it works but there is this thing that Dimension Films would have lost their rights to the franchise if they didn’t make another film. This give them a reasonable excuse for them churning out this one.

The film opens with camcorder footage of two teenage boys Steven (Nick Eversman) and Nico (Jay Gillespie) getting ready for a trip to Mexico. This camcorder footage was very worrying and I was afraid that it was going to go down the road of the present craze for “found footage” films. This is becomes an even bigger problem when the films cuts to a camcorder recorded scene of Nico opening a Lament puzzle and Pinhead appearing. In camcorder footage this does not appear eerie and otherwordly but like guy dressed in a Pinhead costume. This impression is reinforced by the fact that Pinhead is not played by by Doug Bradley but by another actor (Stephan Smith Collins) who is physically very different. I felt that any chance of inducing a willing suspension of disbelief is strongly challenged by this scene

It turns out that the camcorder footage is being watched by Steven’s mother Sarah (Devon Sorvari). Steven and Nico have gone missing and the police have returned Steven’s belongings to her. Sarah gets interrupted by her husband Dr Ross Craven (Steven Brand)  who seems to be long line of screen psychiatrists who have apparently no empathy. He tells her the Bradleys are here. Their daughter Emma is having a hard time with her brother going missing and can’t get why they don’t want to talk about it.

I can’t get why they don’t want to talk about it either, especially when it turns out that the Bradleys are Nico’s parents Kate (Sanny Van Heteren) and Peter (Sebastien Roberts). Emma slopes off to her mother’s room and finds the camera in Steve’s bag. She starts watching and this takes us to a more complete flashback of what happened to the boys. We see them get very drunk and Steve chats up a young Mexican girl in the bar.  Next we see Nico and the girl having rough sex in the toilet while Steve’s whines and pukes up in the sink. Afterwards Nico really wants to leave in a hurry. The girl is dead and Nico is scared of Mexican jail even though he claims it was an accident.

Emma stops watching deeply upset because she’s supposed to be in a relationship with Nico. Then she finds the Lament puzzle in Steven’s bag. She confronts her parents about being kept in the dark but it’s really just shouting at them and then she storms off to sit by herself at the pool, playing with the puzzle box. Before she starts solving it Steven appears, exhausted and covered in blood mumbling about someone coming for him.

This film not only appears rushed, it was rushed. Although the story is pretty faithful to the tone of original the special effects are not nearly as well done and they don’t quite capture its atmosphere. The script has some really clunky dialogue for the actors who just don’t deliver it very convincingly. The Cenobites were okay especially Pinhead Junior but people will not be happy about Pinhead being played by someone who is not Doug Bradley who gave the role a quiet intensity which was the reason the character became so iconic. I doubt that even if it had Been Doug Bradley playing the part that the film would have been any better since his presence didn’t save Hellworld or Hell on Earth.

If you have never seen a Hellraiser film this is not a good introduction to the series. It is just as gory and violent as the others and has scenes of sex and nudity

Rating 5/10

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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