The Turning (2020)

the turning poster 2020 movie
2.0 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 2/10

Good original story

Ruins a good story, miscast

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Turning

Studio: DreamWorks

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s):  January 23, 2020 (Los Angeles Film Festival)/January 24, 2020 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

the turning finn wolfhard brooklynn prince

Watch the devious children

Kate Mandell (Mackenzie Davis) has just been granted a job as a governess for a young orphaned child named Flora Fairchild (Brooklynn Prince) in a remote mansion.  Flora has her guardian Mrs. Grose (Barbara Marten) to watch over her, but Kate discovers that Flora’s older brother Miles (Finn Wolfhard) now may be part of her assignment.  When Kate begins to notice strange things happening around the mansion, and Miles seems to be intentionally antagonizing her.  Kate suspects something is wrong with the children and that ghosts of the past might have returned to haunt them.

Directed by Floria Sigismondi, The Turning is a horror-supernatural thriller.  The film is an adaptation of Henry James The Turn of the Screw novella which was originally published in Collier’s Weekly (January 27-April 16, 1898).  The film was released to negative reviews.

the turning dead woman water

I love swimming at my new job!

The Turn of the Screw is a great novella.  The story is full of scares but it is also a psychological horror that be examined, studied, and debated.  The Turning takes the story and moves it to the 1990s (probably to primarily avoid cell phones and the internet).  The subtle nature of the story and the governess’s possible madness is told more aggressively with attempted scares that generally fall flat.  The story had an ambiguous ending which leads to terror, but the movie’s attempt at an ambiguous ending feels desperate and unnecessary.

Part of the problem is the cast.  Mackenzie Davis is fine, but the attempts to question her sanity within the writing of the story isn’t done effectively.  While both children were suspect in the movie, Brooklynn Prince’s Flora is less suspect in this version which takes away from the character.  Joely Richardson tries to push the point of Kate’s potential madness by showing it runs in the family.  The biggest problem is the casting of Finn Wolfhard who is far too old for the Miles character.  Miles is scary because he is a child who seems to know more about the world than he should.  Wolfhard just seems like an angst-y, bitteer teen and teen are always messing with adults.

the turning ghost

Is the ghost real? (I honestly stopped caring about halfway through the movie)

The movie also doesn’t get the scares.  It is a supernatural horror story.  It does a horrible job building suspense and the jumps are lacking.  If the story is going to revise the tale past recognition, they should have added better scares to the already altered feel of the movie.

The Turning is a waste of time.  The story has been turned into much better and scarier versions primarily seen in The Innocents in 1961.  With tons of great horror movies, The Turning can easily be skipped.  Even if you do skip this film, don’t give up on the story.  The Turn of the Screw is a great tale that helped define the genre.

Related Links:

The Innocents (1961)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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