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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - February, 2013

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 "The Awakening" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

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Synopsis

The death of a student at a British boarding school is rumored to have been caused by a ghost.  All the other students are naturally worried about this haunting of their school.  So school calls in Florence Cathcart, a renouned supernatural hoax exposer.  Her task is to expose this as a false rumor so everything at the school can return to normal.  What she finds at the school will shake her belief system: the hunter becomes the hunted. 

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2011, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 48 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master
  • Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton
  • Directed by Nick Murphy
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: No

Commentary

I am not a big fan of the visual presentation of this movie.  I thought the insipid picture was so lacking in realism and punch that it caused the story to become much too abstract.  It was a constant distraction for me.  I think a horror/suspense movie must grounded with a broad sense of realism in order to draw you in fully.  But the engaging story, decent acting and the vivid audio design all combined to bring about some genuinely chilling moments.  So I give the Awakening kudos for breaking the mold a little bit with those aspects of the production.  I think this is a solid rental recommendation for a chilly winter evening.  Just consider turning up the color saturation control. 

Technical

I honestly thought something was seriously the matter with my projector when I first fired up this disc.  The picture is almost completely devoid of any natural color, even less than you see in the promotional stills.  This look apparently plays an integral part in setting the tone of this movie.  But that doesn't mean that I have to like it and I don't.  There is generally decent detail and sharpness in the picture but some scenes have what looks like a touch of video noise.  All in all, it is a decent transfer that fulfills the film maker's stylistic vision.  

The audio is clearly better than the video and offers up a delectable portrait of the environmental sounds, both real and imagined.  The multi channel audio track supports the ebb and flow of the script and elicits the appropriate emotional response to the film.

Extras

This is a single Blu-ray disc release with a fun but fairly commonplace suite of extras - Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Director Nick Murphy, A Time for Ghosts, Anatomy of a Scene: Florence and the Lake, Anatomy of a SCREAM, Behind the Scenes and an Extended Interview with Nick Murphy.