The Awakened (2012)
Directed by: Lou Simon and Douglas Villalba
Starring: Stephanie Pitts, Nikolas Holmes, Jonathan ‘Legacy’ Perez, John J Thomassen, Nancy Sayegh, Julie Kendall, Harry Marsh, Wil J. Jackson, Saphie Gonzalez
(out of 4)
Five twenty-somethings decide to hold a hurricane party in a Miami house. They hold a spiritual healing session to pass the time, but something goes horribly wrong and their spirits (and bodies) are now in danger. Something evil has decided to take them, one by one, and because of the storm, they cannot escape. That’s the plot of The Awakened in a nutshell, a low budget film from producer Lou Simon (also co-writer/co-director), co-written by Juan Gonzalez, and co-directed by Douglas Villalba.
The Awakened sets up some dramatic conflict between the regulars. Kevin (John Thomassen) is dating Laura (Nancy Sayegh), who slept with Kevin’s best friend Manny (Jonathan Perez) once behind his back. Laura’s friend Gina (Stephanie Pitts) is visiting from up north with her med student boyfriend Charlie (Nikolas Holmes), who is kind of a party pooper, and anyway Gina has her own baggage. Affected by her mother’s passing, death is on her mind and she takes medication to keep stable. After a brief drinking session (plenty of beer to last through the storm, but Manny isn’t very good at other types of preparation) the group decides to attempt a repeat of Laura’s previous spiritual healing session with a gypsy friend. Big mistake. The entity that has been “awakened” is not happy. When it’s not killing the inhabitants of the house it’s playing tricks on them (sometimes hiding things from them, like the keys that will unlock the shutters and allow them to leave the house).
Does Power 96 play anything else besides Pitbull and Rihanna?
There aren’t too many surprises in The Awakened, much of the tension coming from character infighting and people accusing each other of foul play. Effects are minimal, and the storm (which is only seen very briefly) never feels like a true threat. Of course, this is probably due to the extremely low budget, which I cannot fault, but I might have upped the storm to a Cat-5 classification just to make it interesting. (Back in 2004 we went through 3 hurricanes in central Florida and the only thing that frightened me was the idea that I would have to go an entire week without electricity). Anyway, The Awakened seems more concerned with main character Gina’s attitudes towards the afterlife and how the presence of a demon influences that, but I think it makes the mistake of abandoning her in the conclusion in favor of hanging out at the crime scene with cops and a real estate agent.
The Awakened is interesting enough during the running time but there’s not enough there to make the film linger in the mind. I did like the actors through, my favorite being John Thomassen and his version of a blond, surfer-type, who seems the most level-headed character out of the bunch. Actually, the way the dialogue is written and performed, along with the limited setting (stuff happens mostly in the kitchen or living room) makes The Awakened feel a lot like a stage play. Taken on that level, it’s not bad at all. Overall, a decent first effort from Blue Nile pictures.
Oh, by the way, props to Stephanie Pitts and Julie Kendall for knowing how to scream.
– Bill Gordon
Buy The Awakened on DVD
The Awakened comes from Miami-based Blue Nile Pictures and was screened at the HorrorHound Weekend convention, September 2012. For more info, check out the official site.