Director: Mike Newell
Starring: Charlton Heston, Susannah York, Jill Townsend, Stephanie Zimbalist, Patrick Drury
They thought they had buried her forever!
The life work of the archaeologist Matthew Corbeck is his finding of the tomb where the ancient Egyptian Queen Kara has been resting. His obsession with finding this tomb caused the destruction of his relationship with his wife Anne and in turn made it impossible for him to see his daughter grow up.
Eighteen years after the discovery of the tomb, his daughter Margaret feels the need to get to know her father and joins him in a trip back to Egypt to visit the tomb. What she don’t know is that she has become possessed by the evil spirit of Kara and her father is planning to put her soul back to rest.
Even if The Awakening was made in 1980, it feels like a very classic horror film that could just aswell have been made twenty years earlier. The story is based on the story The Jewel of Seven Stars, a novel that isn’t all that exciting and would probably not have been the source of several adaptations (including Hammer’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb nearly ten years before this) if it wasn’t written by Bram Stoker who is of course responsible for the all-time classic Dracula.
It’s a bit slow paced and the mummy aspect doesn’t fit very well with the popular horror films at the time of its release as this was the age of the slasher films. It feels a bit like an Omen ripoff as the evil forces take over the main characters offspring, even though it is an ancient mummy and not related to satanic powers. The murders are all very much done like in The Omen with an evil force being responsible instead of a human presence.
Charlton Heston is alright as Corbeck, even though he does overact in some scenes. They could have done more with the relationship between him and his daughter Margaret (Stephanie Zimbalist). There is an attraction between the spirit of Kara and Corbeck, even when Kara is in the possession of his own daughter and this aspect could have been explored further in my opinion, even if it would have sleaziest up the film a bit more.
The main problem with the film is that it is very uninspiring and lacks heart by the filmmakers. It requires a lot of patience by the viewer and the payoff won’t be worth it for most. The production values are good and it is a properly filmed movie. I’m not sure how much this film alone did for his future career, but director Mike Newell has made an impressive career for himself with movies such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Traffic, Donnie Brasco and even one of the Harry Potter film on his filmography.
The Awakening sadly doesn’t have that much to deliver to seasonal horror fans. The production values and directing does save it a bit and if you don’t mind watching Charlton Heston for an hour and a half then you can have some fun with it. For others it will be a mediocre experience.