Andrea’s film review – The Innocents

The Innocents ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

During the bright Nordic summer, a group of children reveal their dark and mysterious powers when the adults aren’t looking. In this original and gripping supernatural thriller, playtime takes a dangerous turn. Out in selected cinemas.

Creepy children have always been among the top favourite ingredients when it comes to horror films. One can hardly forget Damian from The Omen, or Regan in The Exorcist (to her defence, it was the devil who possessed her), and even Danny in The Shining (as well as the Grady twins in that film!); Pet Sematery, The Village of the Damned, Children of the Corn… and I could go on and on… I’m a horror nerd after all.

Film makers have long found the juxtaposition between those cute little innocent faces and their unspeakable evil deeds irresistible.

The Innocents is the latest film to delve in such subgenre. It tells the story of a group of children with special powers of telepathy and telekinesis. At first they start using them for innocent games out in the playground, but soon things will take a much darker turn.

The story has echoes from films like Carrie and even The Good Son (A rather bad, but very memorable film from the ‘90s starring a psychopath-version of Macaulay Culkin), but this Norwegian film soon transcends its Stephen King vibes, and actually it ends up doing its own things pretty soon. The more it plays out the more unpredictable it gets.

It is a truly unsettling and unnerving piece of work, the way only really good horror films can be. Sometimes brutal, often unpredictable, it slowly gets under your skin by building an eerie atmosphere, which is truly terrifying.

And it does all that without having to resort to great special effects, or cheap jump scares, or darkly-lit corridors and shots of the full moon. In fact most of the film takes place in broad daylight in the middle of summer, which makes everything even scarier as it makes it feel there is nowhere to hide. The contrast between the bright sunshine and the darker side of the children’s psyches is stark.

The cast of young children is astonishingly good. I doubt they even understood the parts they were playing, so kudos to director Eskil Vogt, (screenwriter on the recent, Bafta winning The Worst Person in the World).

There is so much at play here: not just the loss of innocence, but the feeling of being misunderstood as a child, of being neglected; the innate ability for cruelty that children have, when their moral compass is not yet properly balanced.

This is a mature and at times unflinchingly cruel film which perfectly balances good horror with a multi-layered and nuanced examination of childhood and parenthood.

And now I’m just going to give a little kiss to my son, who’s asleep nextdoor… just in case.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick

The Innocents is out in selected cinemas and on the Curzon website.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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