Review: ‘The Turning’ switches expectations

Horror flick hits standards, doesn’t surpass


Courtesy of DreamWorks.

Based on the 1898 horror novella “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James, “The Turning” was released to theaters on Friday, Jan. 24. The movie follows a recently hired governess, Kate (Mackenzie Davis), who is tasked with caring for and tutoring two unsettling orphans, Flora (Brooklyn Prince) and Miles (Finn Wolfhard), in a lavish yet seemingly haunted mansion. The plot held high potential for the movie to be terrifyingly great.

The horror film successfully frightened its audience, but the chilling scenes were sparse and borderline weird rather than terrifying. The scenes that especially terrified viewers were the ones containing cheesy jumpscares, spiders and paranormal activities. Though most of the major scares were predictable, some managed to truly shock the audience.

The visuals throughout the movie remained grim and dreary, with sweeping shots of the estate shrouded in fog adding to the calm yet creepy atmosphere. The colors of the movie were dim while at the estate, immersing viewers in the haunted scenery. The eeriness is achieved through the monochromatic scheme and makes the movie feel scary in the absence of typical horrifying moments.

The acting done by Wolfhard, Davis and Prince is phenomenal. Barbara Marten also deserves high praise for her portrayal of Mrs. Grose, another member of the hired help for the orphans. Each actor delved deep into the characters’ backstories and demonstrated shifting dynamics over the course of the movie well. Wolfhard and Marten’s character development toward the end of the movie were especially impressive due to their complete dive into the demented nature of the film.

“The Turning” relied heavily on psychological aspects rather than traditional horror themes, which was a pleasant surprise for those who feared the movie would fall prey to typical genre tropes. Parts of the film were terrifying purely based on anticipation and the creepy atmosphere. However, fans wish the film had real scares throughout the entire movie so it would feel like a “true” horror film.

The ending was a major let down, with a 90-minute build up promising a worthy finale. The movie concluded with a cliffhanger, leaving the audience confused, unsettled and unsatisfied. Though it matched the end of its source material, the execution of the final 15 minutes was not as strong as the rest of the film. Since “The Turn of the Screw” also ends ambiguously, fans’ questions will continue to remain unanswered apart from theories and forums on the internet.

“The Turning” was a solid psychological horror film up until the final stretch. When the movie ended, the audience was shocked, not believing the plot was truly over. The film deserves 3 out of 5 stars for the decent scares and solid world-building, but it failed to truly amaze and impact viewers.