Awakened Is a Needlessly Incoherent Thriller

<I>Awakened</I> Is a Needlessly Incoherent Thriller

This needlessly incoherent thriller treats its convoluted nonsense with grave seriousness. It's mawkish, maudlin, and tongue-tied — countless scenes end with characters excusing themselves to go to bed, and you may want to join them. Julianne Michelle plays Samantha, a sulky, traumatized young woman who returns to her hometown after 14 years in foster care to solve her mother's murder, a childhood incident she witnessed but has since blocked out.

She suspects her recovering alcoholic father (weepy, weary-eyed John Savage) is the culprit, yet she inexplicably moves back in with him. Meanwhile, she begins working for a former politician turned funeral home entrepreneur (a game Steven Bauer), an old friend of her mother's whom she enlists as her sleuthing accomplice. But Bauer, of course, has some twisted skeletons in his closet.

You'd think that co-directors Joycelyn Engle and Arno Malarone would detect some campy humor within Awakened's many ridiculous plot twists: Bauer's secret backing by a cookie-cutter mafioso; the trench-coat-clad apparition that repeatedly tips his fedora to Samantha; and the sudden emergence of Samantha's estranged uncle (Edward Furlong in snarling, hissing mode), who may or may not be insane.

Location Info


Quad Cinema

34 W. 13th St.
New York, NY 10011

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Greenwich Village


Directed by Joycelyn Engle and Arno Malarone
Opens March 21, Quad Cinema

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But the filmmakers are as desperate for this material to haunt us as they are indifferent to its making sense. Engle and Malarone flood the film with fleeting, slow-motion flashbacks and gothic nightmares about miscarriages.

But with such a charmless heroine at its center and a totally implausible conclusion, Awakened ends up the cinematic equivalent of white noise.

My Voice Nation Help

I have to agree with this reviewer. This movie just drags on and on and on and on. I would not show this movie to someone who is contemplating suicide (aka the oriental military man who hanged himself in Airplane! while listening to Ted Striker's monologue about his miserable life).
The characters are all uninteresting and sound as if they are just reading their lines. John Savage, once a very handsome actor in the 70's, looks like he hasn't gotten a good night's sleep in weeks. I mean, he just looks haggard, and it's kind of sad to see him like this. Stephen Bauer looks like, sounds like and comes across like a low class street hustler who you don't want to be around. He doesn't even have any of the charm of a typical corrupt politician/mafioso that make films with gangsters interesting.
Sally Kirkland makes a meaningless appearance around the middle of the movie, and unless you saw her name in the opening credits and were watching for her you wouldn't recognize her.
The main character is not very interesting at all. One of the most glaring inconsistencies in the movie is the funeral, about 3/4 of the way through the movie, of the town's mayor. This makes no sense at all. The mayor had, unless my memory fails me, absolutely no role at all in the movie until the town shows up for her funeral; the funeral has nothing at all to do with the miserable plot, and we are not told how she died or why. It's pointless, like the rest of this awful film.
This isn't even a good "bad" film like some of the cult classics from the 50's. It's totally horrible, like drinking too much on a weekend in High School and getting violently sick afterwards. There's no other metaphor that I can think of to describe this film.


I just saw Awakened here in LA. It's a good film for thinking people- a smart movie. We need more of these type movies. Strong cast.You can not predict what happens next. It is a good movie.


I thought the film was very thought provoking and entertaining. There are a few ways to interpret the ending, which is the beauty of it. This film is definitely not for a passive audience. My friend and I discussed it for hours afterward, which I don't get the pleasure of doing often after watching a film. The performances were solid. I haven't seen her before, but the lead actress was excellent as well. Lots of suspense throughout and kept my interest. Overall, a film worth seeing. 


Shame on the Village Voice! This movie was extremely thought provoking and suspenseful. It kept me at the edge of my seat, and I LOVED Julianne Michelle in the role of Samantha. I couldn’t envision another actress portraying this character with more sincerity and charm. She is incredible and so is the rest of the cast.  Steven Bauer and John Savage are amazing as well. Steven is so charismatic. If anyone thinks this story is incoherent and can't decipher the clues and connect the dots, then they must be dumb. 


Awakened is a movie for thinkers. If you are an in the box personality, it is not for you. Obviously this critic never really watched the movie. It is deep and what a great pleasure to find a picture that makes one think and still enjoy. I went to sleep thinking about this, as did my girlfriend. This is a good movie if you think out of the box and have even the slightest intelligence. The actors are outstanding. The entire cast was so believable. The picture is suspenseful and truly enjoyable. There is so little we know about the unknown. Bauer is great. The young and older Samantha characters are beautiful and so talented. Michelle and Gerasimovich. This is a great cast. This is Character, story and thought driven, not a bunch of special visual effects that cost millions just to make young kids and non-thinkers like the film.


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