REVIEW: The Turning (15), (94 mins), Cineworld Cinemas
With its trim 94 minute running time, you couldn’t accuse The Turning of bloating. But it’s certainly baffling – a sudden finish which is either brilliance masquerading as nonsense or nonsense masquerading as brilliance.
There’s a collective “Huh?” as we get seemingly two different endings as if director Floria Sigismondi couldn’t decide which way to go and so decided to go for both, challenging us to decide for ourselves and pretend we’ve somehow grasped it.
There are already endless pages of explanation on the internet, none of which actually elucidate anything. Maybe the point is that you can make of it whatever you want. No one is ever going to be able to say you are wrong.
Who knows, total obfuscation was possibly the sole aim…
If so, it’s disappointing because, until then, it’s a film far, far better than many of the critics would have you believe – a genuinely creepy, thoroughly unsettling hour and a half which you find yourself wishing was over for the simple (and best) reason (a compliment to the film): The Turning is actually a very, very uncomfortable place to be.
The film is a reimagining, set around 20 years ago, of Henry James’ The Turn of The Screw; once again we’ve got a governess being sent to look after two very troubled orphan children in the most rambling of spooky mansions, with a nasty, disapproving housekeeper never too far away.
Finn Wolfhard gives arguably the film’s best performance as the boy, a chilling performance which exudes something deeply sinister and unspeakably cruel as he sets out to torment the new governess, the excellent Mackenzie Davis who gives a uneasily persuasive account of chirpy perkiness slowly sliding into dishevelled terror.
Of course, we’ve got all the clichés of the genre, from creepy mannequins to faces in the mirror, from endless dark rooms with fluttering curtains to something nasty lurking in the pond.
But the fact is that Sigismondi marshals them all very, very nicely… or rather very, very nastily.
Until we get an ending which is a shocker for all the wrong reasons.
However, Wolfhard and Davis are certainly worth watching, and if you enjoy a closing sequence which will send you out thinking “What on earth happened there?”, this is most definitely the film for you.
A shame, though, that the ending debate is going to overshadow a pretty decent film…