A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the deaths of their parents. A modern take on Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw.
If you know me, then by now you probably know that I get extremely worried about January-released films. Horror films in particular. It genuinely seems as if movie studios release their worst films in the beginning of the year in hopes that audiences will have long forgotten about it by the time the end of the year rolls around, and that is most often exactly what happens.
Don’t get me wrong though, over the years, there have been some exceptions when it comes to January films in which I have ended up liking them. For example, last January we had M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass, which was one of my favorite movies of that entire year. But The Turning is no Glass, in that it is not a good movie. It seems like the curse of January is continuing.
Floria Sigismondi’s The Turning is an extremely weird movie, but not in the way that the filmmaker had hoped for. It is weird because it shows us an endless series of events that lead to absolutely nowhere and are only there in the hopes that general moviegoers will get scared.
This is not a long film either, with a running time of only ninety four minutes. Usually when a film is that short, the film’s pacing should feel relatively quick, but The Turning feels like it constantly builds up to something that we never get. There are no payoffs here and in some ways, it truthfully betrays its audience. If you were a fan of the movie leading up to its third act, I am confident that you won’t be by the time the credits roll. I thought that the ending to the recent Grudge film was bad, but this was somehow even worse. It’s a bunch of mindless and thrill-less sequences one after another that don’t do anything for the story, nor does it do the trick to entertain us.
When it comes to the performances, they range from okay to just straight up bad. One of the decent performances in the film gratefully comes from its lead Mackenzie Davis, who portrays Kate. Although she is not spectacular in the film, she does a decent enough job at playing the main character in this story and I do think she is a greatly talented actress, but I just wish that she chose a better script to showcase her acting talent. Also decent in the film is Brooklynn Prince, who is featured heavily on the film’s posters and other marketing material, and she does an okay job at being the traditional “creepy kid in a horror film”.
But Finn Wolfhard, who portrays Miles, delivered one of the weakest performances of the film and perhaps his weakest performance to date. He not only doesn’t get a whole lot to do here, he overacted immensely which was disappointing cause I usually am a big fan of his work.
The movie does have some good cinematography though. David Ungaro has a ton of gothic and mysteriously creepy shots throughout the film and his camera work here was probably my favorite aspect of the film. But that really isn’t a good thing when the cinematography is the best part of the movie overall.
It’s just that this film is so trope-filled, jump scare ridden, and pointless, that it is extremely difficult to enjoy anything in the film, really. This could have been a much better film with a different script. This script entices viewers with a story that goes absolutely nowhere. We are shown numerous scenes that are supposed to be creepy but just aren’t, and they feel like they are only there to hopefully spook viewers, but that’s it.
The Turning drastically fails at adapting a beloved horror tale, as it is filled with tropes, weak acting, and has a story that ultimately leads nowhere.
Overall Grade: D
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for terror, violence, disturbing images, brief strong language and some suggestive content
Directed by: Floria Sigismondi
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: January 24, 2020 (United States)
Running Time: 94 minutes