The Awakening & Bound are currently available on instant Netflix
The Awakening (2011) – Rated R
“A haunted boarding school calls on Florence Cathcart, who disproves hoaxes for a living. But the strange place leads Cathcart to question rationality.”
If you like your horror movies visceral and in your face, The Awakening is not for you. The Awakening is a nice, slow burn story of a haunting (or is it?). The atmosphere is quite wonderful and essentially omnipresent (think The Woman in Black).
Performances are good across the board. Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3) plays Florence Cathcart, a hoax explorer and debunker in post World War I Britain. Dominic West has a tendency to give one of two performances, either wonderfully understated (The Wire) or egregiously over the top (Punisher War Zone). Thankfully, his performance here is of the former category. Imelda Staunton (Maleficent) helps ground the film as a no-nonsense matron.
The Awakening is not as strong as some other story-based hauntings, such as The Changeling, The Orphanage, or The Others, but it is very well done with a good story.
Bound (2015) – Not rated
“A real estate broker meets a younger man who introduces her to BDSM. Sexually fulfilled, she takes charge of her professional and personal life.”
I saw Bound was new to instant Netflix but I thought the fun 1996 thriller from the pre-Matrix Wachowskis was already on Netflix (it is – go watch it!). I had never heard of this 2015 direct-to-DVD ripoff of 50 Shades of Grey. Its tagline is “No Grey. Only Black and White” which is a little too on-the-nose.
Poor Charisma Carpenter. She tried out for the title role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While she didn’t win that role, she obviously did well enough to be cast as Cordelia. Cordelia is not as important as Buffy, Angel, Giles, Xander, and Willow but was an integral part of the team. Word was that she was difficult to work with, perhaps because of disappointment over being sidelined.
She went with David Boreanaz when Angel got his own series. Cordelia was the female lead but was gradually sidelined for whatever reason. Eventually relations between the showrunners and Carpenter got so bad that they stuck Cordelia in a coma for a season before resorting to more drastic measures.
She has had guest spots and occasional runs on various television series since then, the most significant of which was an eleven episode run on Veronica Mars. Unfortunately her career has had a steady downturn, hitting all the usual marks. She starred in a low-budget horror movie, Voodoo Moon, as well as some Lifetime productions.
Now she stars in the Fifty Shades of Grey ripoff, Bound. I decided to give this movie the benefit of the doubt. Well, at least until it began with “The Asylum Presents” which is pretty much the worst way any film can begin.
It did not get better from there. The movie has a laughable view of the S&M world (not as laughable as Pretty Woman’s view of prostitution but I digress). I would love to compare it to Fifty Shades but I have not seen that. I did notice that Carpenter uses the same safe word, ‘Red’, as the heroine in Shades. For those of you with the heart of a teenage boy, yes, Carpenter is in various stages of undress throughout the film, including topless but this film and the script are certainly not flattering to her.
Unless you are a rabid Charisma Carpenter fan, avoid this. I can only think they sold Carpenter on the overall storyline and kept the script from her until filming.