Film / The Awakening

A 2011 British horror film starring Dominic West and Rebecca Hall and set in 1921, in the aftermath of World War I.

Robert Mallory: There have been other sightings. The boys believe...
Florence Cathcart: Boys believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I'm sure some of them even believe in God.

Florence Cathcart (Hall) is a driven paranormal debunker called to a boarding school by teacher Robert Malory (West) to investigate an alleged haunting there. She duly goes about her work, only to find that the house contains an old and personal secret. Not to be confused with the novel by Kate Chopin.

This movie provides examples of:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Florence is about to have one in the bath, but is interrupted.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Maud makes for an extremely sympathetic character, even when poisoning herself and Florence to reunite them with Tom in the afterlife.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The movie ends without confirming whether or not Florence is dead; Apparently Tom helped her throw up the poison, but no vomit is seen, and though the headmaster only talks about one death, he makes a crude comment about Florence right as she's in his line of vision.
  • Attempted Rape: By Edward, on Florence.
  • Batman Cold Open: The movie opens with Florence performing an undercover debunking of a fake medium.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Maud poisons both Florence and herself
  • Boarding School - the school is depicted fairly realistically for 1921 - discipline is strong and includes caning, but the teachers genuinely believe that they're acting in the pupils' interest. The haunting might make it a Boarding School of Horrors though...
  • Coitus Ensues: There's tension between Florence and Robert, but their sex scene comes off as rather abrupt.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: At the end, one of the teachers mentions that he'd "read a study last term. Ladies' minds often can't cope with further education".
  • Dirty Coward: Robert notes that Edward faked a limp in order to get out of the trenches.
  • Disappeared Dad - Being set immediately after World War I, there's a reason why there aren't many middle-aged men picking up their children from school.
  • Fridge Logic: In-Universe, Mallory drops a weird one while developing photographs with Florence.
    Mallory: When I was a lad, I'd huddle into my bed, wanting to see what was there, but too frightened [of the dark] to open my eyes. It's never darker than when we close our eyes, and yet we keep them shut. Why is that?
  • Furo Scene: Both Florence and Robert each get one.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: Florence lost her boyfriend in the war.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: At the end, Tom spirits himself up to Maud's room to retrieve something to make Florence sick and thus save her life.
  • Jerk Ass: Edward.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Florence repressed the memories of her actual past.
  • Nightmare Face: The ghost's.
  • The Reveal: Florence and her parents never lived in Africa, they lived in the school when it was still a mansion and her father shot and killed her mother and half brother then himself. Tom is her father's bastard son, and he's been a ghost this whole time.
  • Speech Impediment: Robert has one.
  • Survivor Guilt: Malory feels responsible for the deaths of his squad.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran - McNair is one of these; he pushes the pupils so they'll be strong enough to face the horrors of war