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The Turning review

By midlandsmovies, Feb 1 2020 09:28AM



The Turning (2020) Dir. Floria Sigismondi


The Turning is a new horror film directed by Floria Sigismondi and starring Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard and Brooklynn Prince.


The plot is a shrewd updated adaptation of Henry James’ ‘The Turn Of The Screw’. The Turning sadly embodies near every element of its cursed release date, and is a studio hack job of the highest order, despite a promising start. The Turning takes us to a mysterious estate in the Maine countryside, where newly appointed nanny Kate is charged with the care of two disturbed orphans, Flora and Miles.


Quickly though, she discovers that both the children and the house are harbouring dark secrets and things may not be as they appear.


The films atmosphere is rather eerie, and there are a good collection of scares. The main actors did a very good job of completely embodying themselves as their characters, and they really do give off a creepy aura.


However, this movie lacks any gravitas narratively speaking, with the plot being sketchy and unkempt. The narrative is very subjective to its viewer, the ambiguous pacing and the insidious, vague story make it hard for you as a watcher to really resonate with its characters and themes. The theming I feel was trying too hard to be part of the political commentary we are seeing more and more in modern horror.


This past year alone, both Jennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale” and Sophia Takal’s “Black Christmas” used rape-revenge tropes as plot points, though to vastly different degrees of success. In the case of The Turning, we get drawn out depictions of ‘toxic masculinity’ and poorly and often annoying one-liners referring to tyrannical power, and oppression.


This film does have a beautiful pallet, and certain set designs made nods to ‘The Women in Black’ and ‘The Shining ’but the movie lost its identity, and throughout loses its audience.


Overall The Turning did not know what film it wanted to be. Was it a social commentary, or was it a homage to mental health? In the end we got a tense, chilly movie with no distinctiveness and unfortunately, for a horror movie to stay with you, that narrative has to be coherent with the audience’s thoughts throughout.


The intentionally cryptic ending is the director's unapologetic take on the source material. Unfortunately, the extreme level of ambiguity is not an audience pleaser. The story would have been far better served if the conclusion offered more subtle feelings of unease or doubt.


★★


Ben Warrington

Twitter @ben_warro

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