Are you a good witch or a bad witch? In the case of Reawakened, it’s bad witches only. From writer-director Jose Altonaga, comes a tale of a wronged Wiccan turned evil enchantress and some poor suckers that show up at her doorstep. Though entertaining, Reawakened faces more challenges than triumphs. An enjoyable story and likable characters compete with choppy editing, harsh transitions, and disjointed dialogue.
Reawakened follows Michele Chadwick (Steffani Brass) as she recounts events of an ill-fated camping trip. Michele and her friends planned to traipse off into a wooded area on a 14-mile hike to Beckon Falls…the world’s farthest campground and hot spring. On their journey, they happen upon a seemingly abandoned house and decide to stop there for the night. During their pit stop, Michele’s best friend Sophia (Brooke Mackenzie) discovers a necklace and accidentally awakens a malevolent spirit from centuries passed. Now Michele must conquer the darkness unleashed lest she face eternal damnation. If only she could also only conquer some of the issues with the film.
The camera angles and shooting style are very reminiscent of daytime TV soap operas. This style may work for some films, but I found it to be a distraction from an enjoyable story. Some of the editing and transitions felt rudimentary and choppy, leaving something to be desired. However, issues aside, there are several wide shots throughout the film that pan across the beautiful landscape. I loved this shot choice because it distracts you with grand beauty, only to thrust you back into the blood-soaked fray below. In addition to wonderful wide shots, writer-director-editor-colorist Jose Altonaga’s color choice and tint flourished. Burgeoning blues evoked a sense of foreboding and ominousness while maintaining an aura of calm.
Reawakened contains some continuity errors that while minor, proved to detract from the story’s vitality. The story’s vitality lies at the epicenter of the film: witchcraft. And in a flashback, we see a young Abigail Barker (also played by Brooke Mackenzie) tried and convicted of witchcraft. She is convicted by Magistrate Lewis (Wilson Davis), but this magistrate is wearing a Catholic priest’s cassock. And while in a room filled with items associated with Wicca, Nate (Dabier), one of Michele’s friends, makes the sign of the cross…only it is with the wrong hand…and done backwards. Small details like this dampen these otherwise incredibly powerful images in this supernatural tale.
In the land of Reawakened, horror tropes abound. A group of friends go on a camping trip, get lost, find a (not so) abandoned abode, ignore all signs of warning, play with other people’s possessions, maintain a cavalier attitude as things swiftly go wrong, wait too long to get help, make every possible mistake while attempting to get help… pretty standard right? It’s like making chocolate chip cookies. The same ingredients mixed every time yield one tasty treat, and horror is no different. Tried and true elements thrown together should yield a similarly successful result. Unless a key ingredient is changed. In the case of Reawakened, that ingredient is the dialogue.
Much of the dialogue throughout Reawakened felt forced. Moments of playful banter and disagreement between friends looked more like reading from a teleprompter or an orchestrated high school debate match. Certain plot points were not emphasized enough in order to really move the story forward smoothly. I believe the actors gave it their best and I commend them for it. I especially applaud Nate (Dabier), Rachel (Ann Tomberlin), and Michele (Steffani Brass) for breathing convincing life into their characters. I enjoyed the story’s end. Without giving anything away, I will say that the writers made an excellent choice for the story’s end…which may not be an end at all.
Overall, the vision of co-writers Remy Mackenzie and Jose Altonaga is clear, but it’s the execution that gets a little murky. A fun story with some good acting could not carry the weight of the film’s drawbacks. If you like witches, classic horror tropes, and some gore, then give Reawakening a try! But if you can’t get passed some of the dialogue or choppy transitions, rather than reawaken…maybe let it sleep.
MOVIE RATING – 5 out of 10
|Runtime:||1hr. 30 Mins.|