Six months after the events of the second film, both the government and the general public have become aware of the existence of the Vampires and Lycans. A program to study and potentially harness their powers soon escalates into an all-out genocide and shortly after the "cleanse" begins, Selene and Michael are captured by humans. Due to her enhanced vampiric traits, Selene is imprisoned in cryogenic suspension.
After being frozen for twelve years, during which both species have been hunted to the brink of extinction, Selene manages to escape. She soon learns that another subject, whom she initially believes to be Michael, has also escaped. While making her way through the high-tech facility, Selene has visions from someone else's point of view. Believing that Michael is mentally guiding her, she follows these visions, leading her down a garbage chute into a labyrinthine series of basement tunnels. Here she encounters a young vampire named David, who has been tracking her. They quickly realize that the tunnels are infested with Lycans, who are hunting the subject Selene is connected with. Determined to reach Michael, Selene fights her way through the Lycan pack until she reaches the second escapee: not Michael, but a frightened and confused young girl named Eve.
Using David's van, Selene, David and Eve make their way out of the facility, only to be attacked once again by a trio of Lycans. David stabs a Lycan while Selene manages to shoot another; the third smashes its way into the rear of the vehicle, where it bites Eve's shoulder. This triggers Eve's partial transformation, revealing her hybrid traits, as she savagely rips the creature's head in half. Selene realizes that Eve is her and Michael's daughter. However, despite her hybrid nature it becomes apparent that Eve's bite wound is not healing and she is rapidly growing weaker, resulting in David agreeing to take the pair to his coven.
After reluctantly drinking some blood, Eve's wound heals, but as they do not feel welcome in the coven Selene gets ready to leave. David tries to convince her to stay and help them start an offensive against the humans by training some Death Dealers, but before she makes up her mind, the coven comes under attack by Lycans. Selene joins the fight and kills many Lycans before being knocked unconscious by a "Super-Lycan" that heals instantly and is not affected by silver. When she awakens later she finds that Thomas, David's father, has surrendered Eve to the Lycans in return for them leaving. After leaving, Selene confronts a human detective named Sebastian, who is sympathetic to the vampires due to his now dead wife being a vampire. Sebastian confirms that the Lycans have been traced to Antigen, the corporation dedicated to killing off the immortal species. It is also revealed that Antigen runs the facility from which Selene had earlier escaped.
Selene discovers that Antigen is actually run by Lycans, who have been posing as humans in order to trick the world's governments into believing the Lycans are extinct. The director of Antigen, Dr. Jacob Lane, is trying to perfect the Lycan race and wants Eve's DNA to do so. The "Super-Lycan" Selene faced earlier is identified as Quint – Lane's son and the prototype for Lycan modifications. Selene and Sebastian infiltrate Antigen to stop Lane's plan and manage to save Eve. Selene comes across Subject 0, who she identifies as Michael and attempts to free him by shooting his cryogenic tank. However, she is forced to leave the thawing Michael in order to stop the Lycans from escaping with Eve. After confronting Lane and his son, Selene fights Lane's son and kills him by implanting a silver grenade in his stomach, whilst Eve kills Lane by ripping out his throat. Selene and Eve return to Michael's tank and find it empty with the ice shattered. Selene states that the world will be hunting Michael and the pair vow to find him first.
Scott Speedman, who appeared as Michael Corvin in the first two films in the series, announced that he would not be reprising his role for the fourth instalment, however he did appear in archive footage from the first and second films, although a stand-in was used in the scenes where he is seen in an unconscious state.
Filming began in March 2011 at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. Awakening is one of the first movies to be shot using RED EPIC digital cameras in 3D.
The soundtrack was released to digital outlets on January 17, 2012, by Lakeshore Records. Most of the songs were remixed by Danny Lohner and use work from the bands Evanescence, Linkin Park, The Cure, Lacuna Coil and Aesthetic Perfection amongst others.
- "Made of Stone" (Renholdër Remix) – Evanescence
- "Heavy Prey" – Lacey Sturm of Flyleaf feat. Geno Lenardo
- "Blackout" (Renholdër Remix) – Linkin Park
- "Apart" (Renholdër Remix) – The Cure
- "Killer & a Queen" – Stella Katsoudas of Sister Soleil feat. Geno Lenardo
- "Watch Yourself" (Renholdër Remix) – Ministry
- "Trip the Darkness" (Ben Weinman Remix) – Lacuna Coil
- "Young Blood" (Renholdër Remix) – The Naked and Famous
- "It Rapes All In Its Path" – Black Light Burns
- "The Posthumous Letter" – William Control
- "How’m I Supposed to Die" – Civil Twilight
- "Consolation Prize" – & SONS
- "Liar" (Revenant mix by 8MM) – 8MM
- "You Won't See The Light" – Ryan T.Hope of The Lifeline feat. Geno Lenardo
- "Bottle of Pain" – Combichrist
- "Intruder" – Collide
- "Exit Wounds" (Justin Lassen Remix) – Justin Lassen feat. Silent Fury
The film received generally negative reviews from film critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 27%, based on 71 reviews, with an average rating of 4.3/10. The site's consensus reads, "There's more vapid action and less story in Underworld: Awakening than previous installments, making the whole affair feel inconsequential." Metacritic has given the film a score of 39 out of 100, based in 17 critics.
Movie review website The Filtered Lens gave the film a negative review citing that "if you try and pay attention to the plot you will get a headache". However, they did note that the action was well done and said it was the goriest of the series. Film critic Chris Pandolfi viewed the film positively, especially compared to the first two in the franchise, saying "although it’s about as lasting as dust in the wind, I think it represents what the series should have been right from the start: An escapist supernatural action thriller that gives us license to put our brains on autopilot."