PICKIN’ THE CARCASS: THE AWAKENING (2010)
By Michael Arruda
THE AWAKENING (2010) was excruciatingly painful to review.
It was so bad I feel guilty giving it press within the pages of this site, but since I decided to watch it, and since it is available on streaming video for others to see, I’d best get the word out that this one’s not worth one second of your time.
A guy named Roy (Kevin Lowe) gets invited to a rave by a beautiful hot blonde. Roy invites a group of his friends to tag along, and they agree. Trouble is, the rave is held way, way out in the middle of nowhere. But, heck, it’s a rave, and there’s a beautiful blonde, so these guys don’t care that it’s happening in the middle of the woods.
Roy and his buddies end up getting lost—of course— and they find themselves in a small town where the locals warn them about “strange goings on” in the area and advise them to stay away. I think I saw this in DRACULA (1931). Like all good horror movie travelers, they ignore this advice. They do meet up with a young graduate student, Katie (Nancy McCrumb), who’s researching an Aztec god, and she’s in the area looking for relics pertaining to this god. She joins the group on their way to the rave. Why the hell, not?
It turns out that this Aztec god is some sort of a demon, which wakes up—hence the title—just in time to crash the rave and ruin everyone’s good time. Obviously, Roy and friends are the last survivors, and the second half of the movie is all about their attempts to escape from the murderous demon. So, if you’re still awake for the second half, it does get a tad better, but a tad better than horrid isn’t saying much. Trust me, you don’t need to watch any of this.
There is so much wrong with THE AWAKENING, I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start at the beginning. The tone of the beginning is all wrong. It’s supposed to be light and funny, and Roy and his friends are supposed to be fun and goofy, but the humor just doesn’t cut it. There’s also a very upbeat soundtrack with plenty of songs—more songs than dialogue, frankly—that seems out of place in a horror movie.
The writing isn’t sharp. Brian Schaefer wrote the screenplay, and I can’t say that I was impressed. I didn’t like the characters, mostly because they weren’t memorable and I didn’t care for them, and I didn’t like the story. This movie should have been titled WHERE’S THE RAVE? because the characters spend the first half of the movie trying to get to the rave, and in the second half they’re fleeing a demon who’s an Aztec god, which I found less than compelling.
We don’t even get to see the demon because he hides inside the bodies of his victims a la THE THING, but unlike THE THING or even INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS there’s no paranoia over who’s the monster because as soon as the demon enters his victim’s body he turns into a murderous machine, so you pretty much know which buddy of yours is the monster. He’s the one with the shotgun shooting everybody.
One thing I did like was when the demon switched from one host body to another, (and he did this simply by touching the person he wanted to enter) the person he exited didn’t automatically die. That person would regain consciousness just long enough to become the first victim of the demon’s new host. These were the only moments of the movie that resonated on an emotional level.
The rest of the movie was horrible. The acting was bad, although to be honest I’ve certainly seen worse acting, but the folks in this movie didn’t do anything to distinguish themselves. There wasn’t one single character in this movie I cared for.
The special effects were the worst I’ve seen in a movie all year. There’s one shot where a guy gets shot in the face, and the split-second sequence is so god-awful fake looking I thought I was watching a Claymation scene. This is the level we’re talking about here.
Director Vince Rotonda also had a very strange directing style, filling the movie with lots of quick cuts and brief scenes. It just didn’t work. It certainly had the look and feel of a comedy, especially something you’d see on television. Trouble is, it wasn’t funny, and the horror aspects of this movie were so lame they were almost amateurish. The folks who made this movie need to practice a bit more before releasing something else.
And the fact that we never see the demon doesn’t help. It continually switches from one human body to another, so the menace in this one is just people possessed by the demon. Not that exciting.
THE AWAKENING couldn’t keep an insomniac awake. You know, there’s a dreadful mummy movie called THE AWAKENING (1980), starring Charlton Heston. That one, a complete dud, is a masterpiece compared to this mess. I’ve seen scarier TV commercials.
A yawn fest from start to finish, THE AWAKENING is easily one of the worst movies I’ve seen all year. Calling it THE SLEEPING would have been more apt.
© Copyright 2011 by Michael Arruda