The Awakening: an indie thriller that delivers

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This thriller of an independent film has a little bit of everything. But before I go any further with this review I want to express something of a disclaimer.

The term “independent film” is very ambiguous. If any term within film production vocabulary is broad, “independent film” is the broadest. The term is defined as any film produced independently of a major studio such as MGM, 20th Century Fox or Paramount. But when films like “Clerks,” “The Blair Witch Project,” “Memento,” “Donnie Darko” and the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” are all lumped within this group, the term can be misleading.

I’m trying to explain that most independent films are never seen. There are just too many of them.

Reviewing a film that is independent is a bit different because you have to take into account the scale of the “independent” production. Some “independents” cost millions to make, others are produced with friends and family for almost nothing. When the quality and budget of these films vary so much, their look and feel will be just as vast.

With that being said, “The Awakening” was well executed on many levels. The first thing that I noticed was the film’s look. The cinematography looked good with a good amount of contrast without being overbearing and a wide variety of shots. Most of the film was shot relatively unsaturated which gave it a slightly grey, uneasy color. Juxtaposing the unsaturated look with the more vivid, friendlier moments helped build the desired suspense.

Editing for “The Awakening” was a bit unusual, out of the mainstream, with cutting that I can only describe as a hybrid of Edgar Wright movies (“Hot Fuzz,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”) and television sitcom “Scrubs.” This created almost a throwback film but with a new age feel that was different without being abrupt.

The movie’s subject matter will likely affect some people’s interest. The film is definitely geared towards a younger audience. It does include swearing and mildly graphic imagery which won’t deter most youth. This isn’t the kind of film you would want to take your grandmother to, or, in some cases, your mother. It is a strong 17 to 30 film which can reach beyond that age group.

The plot worked around a demon/god possession concept which Rotonda takes beyond the cliché exorcism films.

The acting in the film was well executed with the majority of the cast delivering strong, natural performances. The chemistry between Donovan (Brian Schaefer) and Amanda (Emersen Riley) was great as their characters’ relationship progressed in an unforced way. Also the character of Roy (Kevin Lowe) played a funny and hapless protagonist throughout the film. Lowe’s facial expressions alone could tell a story.

The soundtrack was another highlight of this film; the music fit the story progression with a great alternative rock sound.

Overall the film delivered on all the levels to be expected. Its foundation was strong with plenty of background information. It is good, and if you’re a fan of indie films, I suggest you get the chance to see it. Currently the film is looking to be self-distributed by the company, and they are also looking to make it available through Netflix.