THE Awakening begins with a title announcing that half a million people in Britain died of influenza between 1914 and 1919, and that it was therefore a time for ghosts.
In 1921, we meet Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) at a séance where a woman is attempting to summon her daughter.
But it turns out Florence is actually there to bust the séance, and to expose the charlatans who have organised it.
She's a ghost hunter, though actually a sceptic and a renowned author with no time for contemplating that ghostly goings-on could be real.
Dominic West comes to her, a master at a boys' school, who says they have a ghost, a boy who was murdered there years before, and who is thought to have recently caused the death of a pupil.
Florence goes to the school to investigate, really to find the human cause behind the death. Are the kids up to tricks, or bullying, or is there really something supernatural at work?
It is a place of shell-shocked teachers with secrets of their own, and being so rooted in a post-war trauma that has a lasting effect on everyone, including Florence, gives the film a real sense of loss and dread.
That makes for a grey and chilly effort that wouldn't be out of place on the Boxing Day schedules on BBC4, but it is as flawed and scattily plotted as it is atmospheric and spooky.
It has some strong ideas, but also gaping leaps of logic, wild contrivances and extraneous characters that mean it is not immune to frequent bouts of the Scooby Doos.
It benefits from a terrific performance from Hall, although one that's perhaps a little too modern and feisty for a 1920s gal.
A sedate build-up mostly manages to avoid loud and obvious jumps, and it is far more likely to generate chills when it is being quiet and stealthy and slowly ratcheting the tension.
And it certainly has a way with creepy images, although it's not difficult to cause shivers when you're dealing with ghostly children and cavernous old buildings.
But though it gets the job done in momentary flashes, it never quite achieves the turn of the screw needed to provide the icy terror of the very best ghost stories.
Director: Nick Murphy
Running time: 106 mins
ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (U) Heartwarming animation
ARTHUR Christmas (voiced by James McAvoy) lives at the North Pole with his family, and mostly spends his time reading letters that have been sent to Santa.
His dad Malcolm (Jim Broadbent) is the current Father Christmas, but big brother Steve (Hugh Laurie) yearns to take over, and orchestrates the present delivery like a military operation, shown in an ingenious sequence that reveals how the elves manage to deliver to every child in the world in a single night.
But when one child is missed out and Steve doesn't seem to care, it's up to Arthur and his Grandsanta (Bill Nighy) to get that little girl her bike no matter what.
This breezy computer animation from Aardman can only dip after such a fantastic start, and for a while the plot starts to wander as much as Arthur does, as his world tour to deliver the errant present takes him from Mexico to Africa, though with enough wit and imagination to make the journey a pleasant one, and only a bit of steam lost.
It remains engaging throughout thanks to cheery voices, the show stolen by Ashley Jensen as Bryony, an elf with very impressive present-wrapping skills, and it's certainly heartwarming enough to get by.
Director: Sarah Smith
Running time: 97 mins
TABLOID (15) Odd tale of Joyce and her Mormon sex slave...
ACCLAIMED documentarian Errol Morris returns with this account of former American beauty queen Joyce McKinney who achieved notoriety in the 1970s when her obsession with Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson led to her following him to Britain and allegedly kidnap him as her sex slave – though she insists she was trying to de-brainwash him of his days with a cult.
The sequence of events is recounted by McKinney herself and by those whose version differs from hers, though unfortunately not Anderson, so we're left to decide for ourselves just what we want to believe.
It's a thoroughly odd tale, though not necessarily with enough to it to sustain an entire movie that often contains too much superfluous detail.
But it comes alive again when it turns to the tabloid storm the incident caused, with papers lapping up the prurience and bidding tens of thousands for McKinney's story, which amazingly just keeps getting nuttier and nuttier.
Director: Errol Morris
Running time: 88 mins