Natalie Burn’s action-packed thriller, Awaken features Burn as Billie, a young woman searching for her sister. Her exploration leads her to Mexico where her sister disappeared. Billie awakens on a remote island with other survivors, none of whom have any memory of their abductions. Her skills in Russian Special Forces combat help the group resist the sinister black operations soldiers who hunt down a different survivor each day. Billie knows that the mysteries of the island must be connected to the fate of her missing sister, but struggles to connect the dots. The movie, released July 7th, 2015 is now available on DVD.
Related: Exclusive Interview: Natalie Burn Talks Awaken
Fans of Burn’s Expendables 3 co-star and action film legend Sylvester Stallone will recognize a strong focus on intense physical combat and violence. There are elements of implied romance or romantic interest slipped in during the film, but the primary focus of the story was Burn’s character trying to find her sister. Although the movie has been promoted as an action/horror/thriller, there are very few elements of horror in the writing or execution. The film bears close resemblance to the Stallone and Van Damme films that I grew up on. Burn stated in a recent interview that Stallone, Van Damme, and other action stars were her heroes and that she aspired to be like them rather than play a “sexy” role, so it’s no surprise that her first feature film script features a powerful female character and a great deal of action.
The storytelling in Awaken was easy to follow and although many of the descriptions of the film posted online and on the film’s cover ruin the “surprise” of why the healthy adults have been taken into captivity, the primary conflict centering around Billie finding her sister was gradually solved in traditional slow-burning thriller fashion. It was a great first film for Natalie Burn to add to her resume in acting, producing, writing, casting, and the many other areas she performed to make the movie a success. The move towards action films which have strong females is not a tendency which has gone unnoticed. From Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road to Emilia Clarke in Terminator Genisys, the box office has seen more strong female leads this summer than in years past, and I welcome this developing trend. I hope to see more females take the lead in these previously male dominated genres whether it be in a writing, producing, or acting capacity.
Overall, political implications aside, the film is one that horror fans will enjoy. There isn’t a huge focus on blood, guts, gore, or anything horror related, but action is a driving force of many horror films and this movie surely succeeds at that. If you’re looking for a full on horror movie or to be scared, look elsewhere. There aren’t many elements of horror to be found in this picture. But there is still plenty to enjoy about it.
WICKED RATING: 5.5/10
Director: Mark Atkins
Writer: Mark Atkins, Natalie Burn, Scott Martin, Ryan Priest, Michael Thomas Slifkin
Stars: Daryl Hannah, Edward Furlong, Vinnie Jones, Natalie Burn, Jason London
Studio/ Production Co: 7Heaven Productions, Archstone Pictures
Length: 90 Minutes