The Awakening from 1980 has been slotted into the horror genre but is more of a supernatural thriller and even then, there are few thrills to be found. It is not for lack of trying as director Mike Newell tries his best to make as great a film as he can, yet despite everything, the movie does fall a little flat. The actors do a good job of it or at least as best as possible yet the script is lacking any punch, excitement or scares to incite its audience. It is a bit of a shame as the film had all the right tools available, it simply could not use them to assemble anything that might be considered memorable. If you take away the blood from the one really violent death in the film, it could have been a network movie of the week which is really how tame it turned out to be.
Starring Charlton Heston, the story which is another film version of The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker, finds him as an archaeologist on a dig in Egypt. He soon comes across the tomb of Queen Kara, a girl buried and forgotten about, cursed for her actions in life. Over the course of the film, Heston’s character Matthew Corbeck becomes increasingly fascinated by her, whether that is due to his innate curiosity or the magic that seems to surround the recently exhumed Kara is unknown. One thing is made quite clear and that is if Corbeck is not stopped, he will perform the ritual to raise Kara from the dead, for good or bad no matter the consequences.
Heston is good as the obsessive Corbeck, the man who puts a corpse above all others in his life. He is very convincing to the point where you find him almost a bit creepy for loving the dead Kara so much. That is about the only thing you will find that will even cause you to truly feel something akin to horror in the film aside from finding the rest of it a little dull. There is a very slow buildup with just a touch of suspense, though little tension and when things finally get going towards the end of the movie and you finally think it is going to go somewhere, it ends and leaves you hanging. That is not necessarily a bad thing as many films and television shows have used this plot device, but it usually works as a payoff because the lead-in to it was so good and here, it was not.
Most people have a curiosity about ancient Egypt, about the gods they worshiped and their rituals and whatnot and while a little of it was explored here with the crimes and the history of Queen Kara, the filmmakers failed to really grasp a hold of it and exploit it in the best way. It could have been an avenue to explore more fully and engage the viewer, yet they did not and overall, nothing really did. On the plus side, the film was fairly moody at times which was good to see because atmosphere is important, but without tension or fright, action or consequences, the film simply failed at what it set out to do and really, there is no reason that it should have.