Spine-chilling film shot in Berwickshire hits big screen

Rebecca Hall and Dominic West in The Awakening
Rebecca Hall and Dominic West in The Awakening

It was the film that generated a lot of buzz in the region last year when its cast and crew descended on a number of locations in Berwickshire and now just as the weather is turning colder, horror film ‘The Awakening’ is being released nationwide to send an extra chill down the spines of cinema goers.

The Nick Murphy directed film set in post-First World War England, stars Goldon Globe nominee and star of ‘Frost/Nixon’ Rebecca Hall as Florence Cathart, who, haunted by the death of her fiancé, is on a mission to expose all séances as exploitative shams.

Movie poster for The Awakening

Movie poster for The Awakening

However, when she is called to a boys’ boarding school to investigate a case of the uncanny, she is gradually forced to confront her scepticism in the most terrifying way, shaking her scientific convictions and her sense of self to the very core.

Rebecca’s co-stars include BAFTA winner Imelda Staunton and ‘The Wire’s’ Dominic West and the film has received largely positive reviews with film site IMDB rating it 7.8 out of 10 and Easy Living magazine branding it “visually sumptuous.”

And it’s not just the press who have singled out the 15-rated film’s locations for praise.

Speaking to ‘The Berwickshire News’ earlier this week, ‘The Awakening’s’ producer, David M.Thompson said the beauty of Berwickshire and buildings such as Marchmont House and Manderston would shine through on the big screen.

He commented: “Scotland was an absolutely fantastic place to film. There is so much beautiful countryside and beautiful castles and mansion houses like the ones in Berwickshire.

“The most wonderful thing about them is that they haven’t been ruined by being developed or over-modernised.

“The houses were really eerie sometimes. They were very spooky at night and were full of atmosphere, and that’s why Nick chose them because they weren’t just props or sets.

“The beauty of the landscape and the places we filmed are reflected when you see the finished product.”

Someone else who thoroughly enjoyed his time in Berwickshire was the film’s executive producer, Joe Oppenheimer who when filming wrapped at Manderston last year told ‘The Berwickshire News’ if ‘The Awakening’ lived up to its early hype, it was looking good for box office success.

“Scotland and Berwickshire particularly have some fantastic buildings and Manderston was a stunning example of this.

“Having shot ‘Edwardian House’ here our director Nick knew it was an ideal location for us.”

Well a year on it looks like the film has kept its early momentum going, with Rebecca Hall being nominated for a Best Actress gong at the British Independent Film Awards for her role.

And producer David was full of praise for his leading lady, enthusing: “Right at the beginning of our casting, Rebecca was both Nick’s and our very first choice so we were absolutely thrilled when she wanted to do it.

“She was perfect for it because she’s got such strength and depth and subtlety and she’s also incredibly likeable on screen. She’s also appropriate for this role because she’s got such a strong and forceful kind of character.”

Rebecca clearly enjoyed taking on the role of Florence. The actress said that she found the script “absolutely gripping,” adding “what’s fascinating is that if you take away all the bumps in the night and the supernatural elements, you’re left with a really strong psychological drama. In Florence, ‘The Awakening’ also has an incredibly strong central character that goes through a seismic shift. It is not merely a slice of life drama – it’s about a very extreme shift and presents a real challenge physically and emotionally. As an actor, you’re always looking for that.”

To take home the BIFA accolade for her performance in ‘The Awakening’, Rebecca has to beat off competition from a clutch of other talented women, including Duns’s Tilda Swinton who received a nod for her latest film ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’.