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By Mark Bell | April 10, 2014

Amy (Ali Ferda) and her friend Val are the victims of a kidnapping, an experience that only Amy survives. Despite killing one of her captors during the escape, the second kidnapper is still on the loose. Agent Piper (Titus Young Wolverton) needs to catch the perp before it is too late, and he needs Amy’s help, but her memory is failing her. Will they catch the kidnapper, who may also be a serial killer, before it is too late?

Unfortunately for filmmaker Evie Marie Warner, Awakening is a short film with very little going for it. In almost every aspect that a film can come up short, except for its running time, this film does. For starters, lets focus on the visuals.

Clearly, the filmmaker did not have access to some of the better prosumer gear out there, and that’s fine. Not everyone can get a hold of an HD camera and some quality lenses (and someone who knows what to do with them), so the lack of quality in the gear is not necessarily an automatic knock. However, there are ways to elevate a film to compensate for the weaknesses of equipment, either with creative composition or editing. This film does neither, and instead winds up looking like someone tried to shoot a thriller with a VHS camera on a tripod; in other words, visually the film does not come together.

Audio-wise, it also stumbles. In many sequences, the audio is just poorly recorded to the point where no amount of post-production can save it. When it comes to the edit, mentioning the running time should give you a hint that things are off for this short film. Over forty minutes for a short film is a distribution and film festival programming death sentence. There can be rare exceptions for stellar quality, but this one doesn’t come together at all. Unfortunately, I can’t say this would even improve if it went back in under the knife because so many other elements falter.

Finishing up the criticisms with the plot and performance, Awakening has a tired narrative that doesn’t engage, and performances that seem to exist in a realm of either hammy melodrama or unnatural exposition. The attempt to work in a religious element and faith to the story at least brings something unique to the table, but it doesn’t feel apropos so much as hokey and forced. Again, if this film could find a way to trip itself up, it does. Even the film’s climax, after a particularly harsh sequence, switches up tone and goes for jokey with a goofy music score.

I know this review seems like one punch after another at a film and filmmakers who clearly lack experience and resources, but no one involved is going to get better at what they’re trying to do by having me lie or sugarcoat how this film made me feel. This film never comes together in a positive way, and is better left as a learning experience.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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  1. Jake says:

    I totally agree. I tried to watch this mess of a film. It is so horrible!

    Has Evie Marie Warner not heard of sound editors, colorists, etc? It looks like her budget was $0 and you get what you pay for!!!

    The acting is horrible. The writing is worse. The dialogue is nonsensical and illogical. The actors are explosive out of nowhere. Try saying your dialogue, out loud. If it doesn’t sound like it flows naturally, it probably doesn’t.

    The editing is choppy, the dream sequences add nothing to the production. Her script makes no sense.

    This film is a complete fail on EVERY level!

  2. Evie Marie Warner says:

    Thanks for the review. I just now saw this and appreciate the honesty. I’m still proud of this film and know there things that could have been better. We used equipment from, a local public broadcasting company. It was definitely a learning experience. Thanks again for time.

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