Film Review | The Turning

Brooklynn Prince in The Turning (2020)

Plot: A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after their parents’ deaths. A modern take on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.”

Director: Floria Sigismondi

Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince

Genre: Horror/Mystery/Thriller

Released: January 2020

If you’ve spent much time on my blog you would know how much I enjoy both horror and thriller movies, especially those with a gothic tinge or modern takes on the classics, which meant to me at least The Turning had a lot going for it, especially as we haven’t been treated to a good retelling of The Turn of the Screw since The Innocents in 1961. However, despite an interesting mystery, good tension building and faultless acting, the film was let down by a truly awful ending which left me somewhere between disappointed and angry.

As I mentioned earlier, the cast certainly did their jobs well, it was nice to see Wolfhard play something other than the good kid and felt genuinely creepy in places and Davis was convincing as the governess slowly being driven-to-the-edge of sanity by the mysterious goings-on at the Fairchild estate, yet it was Prince who stole every scene she was in as the young Flora Fairchild.

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Similar in a way to Crimson Peak, this film visually beautiful throughout and early jump didn’t affect the work Sigismondi did to pack the film with suspense, in fact, I commend the film for not being cliche, there are plenty of subtle moments where you’re not sure if you’ve seen something in the background or not.

This is where the problems start, a distinct lack of backstory and character development leaves the viewers with way too many questions about why certain things are happening, why certain characters don’t do certain things and personality shifts that some characters have gone through are waved away without ever being delved into, adding to that, the many unexplained deaths the estate has witnessed is never explained and leaves you confused. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are quite a few scenes cut from the film that might have made it a more cohesive story and will show up on the DVD as an extended edition or in the extras.

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Finally, we have the ending, I was willing to give the film a pass for its shortcomings as I attempted to figure out the mystery surrounding the goings-on at the estate, but the ending is unforgivable and screams of a film that ran out of budget or a director who didn’t know how to resolves all the storylines, leaving me even more disappointed than when I watched Ghost Stories. Maybe just maybe the film would have worked better had the events leading up to it actually made sense or had there been hints at throughout that nothing is what it seems. Maybe when this film appears on a streaming service I’ll give it a second watch to see if I missed something, but I certainly won’t be paying to watch it again.

2 Panda

If you liked: The Wolfman, The Haunting, The Legend of Hell House

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