The Turning is the epitome of how January feels: cold, dreary, anticlimactic, endless. Since the film is loosely based on Henry James’ classic gothic tale, The Turn of the Screw, I had hopes that it would be as haunting as the original story. However, because it is also a January release – the usual month of movie-flops – my expectations were rightfully put in check.
A Winter Blunderland
Kate (Mackenzie Davis, Blade Runner 2049 and The F Word) takes a job as a governess for two orphan children, Miles (Finn Wolfhard, Stranger Things) and Flora (Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project). Right away Kate senses the house is not normal, but as she tries to uncover its secrets, the world around her slowly tears apart.
Make no mistake, director Floria Sigismondi knows how to direct a beautiful movie. The location, filming and mansion’s eeriness were the complete gothic package. It was utterly satisfying to watch. In some scenes, the shots were patchy and confusing, upping the ante on Kate’s gradual emotional breakdown. The cast complimented each other well, doing a wonderful job with the material they were given.
Gothic stories are hard to successfully pull off. The Turning is one that could have done it but fell short. Suffice to say, too many things were going on at once. I love a good jump scare, but after 10 in a row they become benign. None of the protagonists are too memorable; Kate has zero reasons to stay in the house; Miles and Flora are never quite developed; and why are we supposed to care about the ghosts? Rather than the story, the emphasis seemed to be on the 90’s aesthetic visuals: a news program broadcasting Kurt Cobain’s funeral, eternal flannel dresses and shirts, grunge rock, black Dr. Martens. The only thing missing was Seattle.
The Turning could have been an alright ghost movie. It could have just been a “meh” movie, a 3 cthulhu movie. But then there was the ending. The peak deus ex machina no-no. I had to google (to no avail) if the creators pulled a Snowman (2017) and left parts of the script unfilmed. The least they could have done is give us some answers, build a few bridges. But no. Instead they abandoned their audience with a monstrosity and abyss of holes too vast to fill.(2.5 / 5)