By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com September 15, 2011 at 1:55AM
Certain things just make intrinsically good material for ghost stories. Wide-eyed children, for one. Big empty houses in the middle of nowhere. Pale actresses in period nightdresses. Um, Jimmy McNulty. British chiller "The Awakening" has all of these things in one package, and from the looks of the trailer that just debuted over at The Guardian, it looks like it might be the kind of effectively spooky thriller that we haven't seen in a while.
Rebecca Hall stars as Florence Cathcart, an author and professional ghost debunker in post-World War One London, who's approached by a teacher (Dominic West) at a boy's boarding school, who believes his charges are being tormented by an honest-to-god ghost. Florence packs her scientific kit and seemingly finds a rational explanation, but soon finds her skepticism challenged.
The film, which comes from first-time feature director Nick Murphy (TV's "Occupation"), picked up some very good reviews when it premiered in Toronto this week, and we can see why from the clip; it might not be breaking new ground in any way, but it looks properly creepy, extremely handsome (thanks to lensing by "A Single Man" DoP Eduard Grau), and good fun. And, thanks to a top-notch cast who seem to be enjoying a trip into some solid genre material (Imelda Staunton and Joseph Mawle are also involved), it looks to have a little more substance than most films of its ilk. A British "The Orphanage"? Let's hope so.
Cohen Media Group picked the film up for U.S. distribution yesterday, while StudioCanal will release it in the U.K. on November 11th, beating the similarly-themed Daniel Radcliffe ghost-fest "The Woman In Black" to the punch by a few months. It's playing at the BFI London Film Festival next month, so we'll bring you our verdict when we catch it there. Check the trailer out below.