Review by Camden Ferrell
The Turning is a new horror movie that is a modern adaptation of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. This is a movie with rich source material that ultimately wastes its potential. It constantly squanders the abilities of its cast on an uninspired film that is devoid of any scares.
This movie follows a newly appointed nanny as she cares for two orphaned children. However, she soon learns the kids and the house are not what they seem, and that they pose a sinister threat to herself. This is a premise that is really interesting and ripe for horror even if it feels very familiar.
The main problem with this movie is how bland it feels from start to finish. The script is full of cliché dialogue that doesn’t develop its characters and is too focused on unnecessary and unimaginative exposition. Every character feels thin, plot points are hastily assembled, and there is an obvious lack of originality in the way it tells its story.
One of the few arguably redeeming aspects of this movie is its performances. This movie is led by the typically stellar Mackenzie Davis (Tully). Even though she had really weak material, she definitely gives this role her full effort, and it makes the movie more engaging than it would have been otherwise. Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) continues to prove she is a talented young actress who has a maturity beyond her years. Again, her material is weak, but she makes the creepily cute little girl character work fairly well. Finn Wolfhard (It) plays the second orphan, but his performance is incredibly forgettable, and I felt it didn’t really add anything to the final product.
It’s clear that this is a movie that was bogged down significantly by its content restrictions. Its PG-13 rating seems like a good idea for business reasons, but it feels far too safe as a result. It isn’t graphic, shocking, or scary, and it feels like a film that was tailor made for a mild tween audience.
There is an obvious attempt at trying to create a tense atmosphere, but it always falls flat. The soundscape isn’t eerie, the visuals aren’t frightening, and the execution is just really poor. Its jump scares aren’t effective, and there are moments that become laughably bad as the movie progresses.
The movie also lacks a cohesive narrative. While it’s admittedly refreshing to see it take such creative risks with its structure and storytelling, the execution is completely off, and it doesn’t work the way it should have. It’ll leave many audience members dissatisfied, confused, and ultimately cheated. Again, it’s somewhat daring, but it was probably a better idea on paper.
The Turning is a dull attempt at horror that feels painfully monotonous throughout. It recycles horror tropes and dialogue that are ineffective in telling its story or delivering thrills. Even if it may seem like a great movie to see with friends, it is not worth checking out in theaters this weekend.
The Turning is now playing in theaters everywhere.