HOLLYWOOD─It feels like a trend for 2020, where horror is not off to a great start. First, we had the latest remake of “The Grudge” just crash and burn, not only at the box-office, with critics or moviegoers, “Underwater” did not connect with anyone and now you can add another flick to the list, “The Turning.” I really don’t know where to begin with this movie. The movie is a modern take on the classic 1898 ghost story “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James. I’m not sure how to categorize this flick.
It is a horror movie, but it felt more like a supernatural thriller without all the thrills and characters, you really don’t care about at all. The movie opens with an interesting premise where the caretaker at the Fairchild Estate, Miss Jessel (Denna Thomsen), who flees the property in a hurried fashion to only not be seen again, or so the audience suspects. This introduces the audience to our protagonist, Kate Mandell (Mackenzie Davis), who shows up at the Fairchild Estate to take care of Flora Fairchild (Brooklynn Prince).
This is where “The Turning” has a major problem, the kids who are teased to be sinister or up to no good are lacking on the threat level. We’re not dealing with kids who are charismatic or alluring as let’s say “The Sixth Sense,” “Child’s Play,” “The Others,” or countless other horror flicks from the past. Flor and her brother, Miles (Finn Wolfhard) are there, and the acting makes the kids seem like threats, when they’re actually not. On top of that the protagonist is just not that smart. Why do you have this never-ending loyalty to a kid that you just met; it makes absolutely no sense, especially when you know your life is at risk.
We get this backstory, about Flora being afraid that everyone who comes to the estate leaves her. It is indeed a hint that this kid may not be who she appears, but that is the extent it goes. Wolfhard’s character is just a mess and comes off as an annoyance instead of a threatening entity. The kids play games with Kate that forces her to question her mental stability. This is the one element that was enjoyable about “The Turning.” It has a smart backstory for our protagonist and her mental state courtesy of her mother who has been institutionalized.
That is a plot point that could have been fleshed out even more and could have turned this supernatural thriller into a smarter movie with a narrative that draws the viewer in. The script for “The Turning” is lackluster in dialogue, lacking in terms of scares and the ending truly leaves you scratching your head. It tries to be smart with a slight twist, but it does not go anywhere people. “The Turning” is a movie that hypes the audience to expecting something tantalizing, scary and twisted, but it fails to deliver and will leave your turning your head as to why you wasted your time and money.