Film Reviews


By • Mar 23rd, 2014 •

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Unexpected twists and turns are a hallmark of this first-class mystery thriller. Troubled by sketchy memories from young childhood, a driven Samantha Winston, superbly played by Julianne Michelle, launches a quest to find answers to these incessant and perplexing thoughts. Her gossamer and fleeting visions portray events surrounding the untimely death of her mother, Jenifer. Mental confusion reigns as Samantha sorts through incomplete and incongruent facts in her relentless pursuit to resolve these issues. Alternative possibilities to her mother’s demise emerge suggesting accident, a medical condition, or even murder.

Strange events and shadowy figures complicate her exploration while warnings are delivered; some heeded, others not. Decorously adding to the suspense is the macabre backdrop when she seeks employment at a funeral parlor. Long-time family friend, Lucas Drake, played by Steven Bauer, graciously accepts her request and invests Samantha in a make-work position. His intent may not be as magnanimous as it first appears? Drake, and other people in the small town, seems to have a secret agenda, and past activities they would prefer not to have exhumed.

While all family relationships are more complex than most people would like to admit, hers is even more so as she learns of relatives previously unknown; some in the most surprising venues. Samantha notes her father, played by John Savage, has undergone a major transformation from the abusive alcoholic he was when she left home so many years ago. Now sober, there is still something intangible about their current interactions.

Though sometimes appearing to move slowly, AWAKENED is well cast and acted so that the audience is actually being exposed to clues in a puzzle that is far more complex than may be initially perceived. The up-tempo conclusion nicely wraps up the various components of the mystery but the supernatural aspects challenge the beliefs of some viewers. Nonetheless there is strong evidence to support the premises portrayed in the movie such as continuation of consciousness beyond physical death and the ability of those departed to influence and assist the living.

Written, directed and produced by Joycelyn Engle, this signal and award winning indie film deserves viewing by a wide audience as it competes favorably with any studio production.

Awaked premieres 21 March 2014 and will play at the Quad Cinema in New York City through the 28th. It will play 28 March through 3 April at the Laemmle Music Hall Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. Openings in other cities will be announced as they become available.

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