The Turning (2020)

Watch the children with care.

https://www.uphe.com/movies/the-turning

A young woman quits her teaching job to be a private tutor (governess) for a wealthy young heiress who witnessed her parent's tragic death. Shortly after arriving, the girl's degenerate brother is sent home from his boarding school. The tutor has some strange, unexplainable experiences in the house and begins to suspect there is more to their story.

I... am... in shock. The Turning had tons of development issues, switching directors (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was the first choice), cast, producers (Steven Spielberg was once responsible for the project), and who knows what else. It's yet another adaptation of the famous ghost story, Turn of the Screw by Henry James, so it was always going to be a challenging task to bring a horror flick with something unique that the others didn't possess. After so many changes, the film finally decided on Mackenzie Davis as the adult protagonist, and Finn Wolfhard and Brooklynn Prince as the young kids.
They replaced everything and everyone, except the people who are behind the main reason why this movie fails so miserably: the screenwriters. With all due respect to the Hayes brothers, but this is the worst kind of a bad film. It doesn't have a single redeemable quality about it. It's a movie about... nothing! It has no message, no purpose, no structure, and last but not least: there's no ending. I'm not joking, The Turning doesn't have an ending. It's like someone abruptly shouts "roll credits" way before any sort of payoff is delivered.
The whole film is a collection of repetitive, dull scenes that only vary in location. Scareless and predictable jump scare sequences spread throughout the entire runtime with no meaning or objective underneath. Close to ninety minutes of build-up to utterly nothing. This isn't one of those cases where the ending is just ambiguous, and people can interpret it in several ways. As baffling as it might sound, this monotonous, cliche, boring horror movie doesn't possess an ending. I have to repeat it, so you actually believe what I'm writing.
Even if I simply ignore that last (nonexistent) act, the rest of the film is still awful. As the viewer, knowing more than the main character about what's happening or what's about to unravel is almost always a lousy aspect concerning the horror genre. Not only there's a lack of a scary or eerie environment, but the narrative raises dozens of logical questions that eventually get no answer. The movie actually starts reasonably okay, it got me slightly invested in Davis' character, but it quickly becomes one of the most yawning-inducing experiences I've had this year.
Usually, I can turn to the acting to help me get through the hardest portions of the film. However, Mackenzie Davis (who I liked a lot in Terminator: Dark Fate) gradually starts to become uninteresting, and Finn Wolfhard delivers the worst performance I've ever seen from him. Brooklynn Prince is good for her age, but she's still a 9-year-old kid, so... you know. Barbara Marten is probably the best as Mrs. Grose, but just like the movie itself, she has no real impact on anything. Technically, the score is weird, and instead of elevating the scary sequences, it turns them into a rock concert. The editing also lacks consistency.
Honestly, I thought that Fantasy Island was a safe bet for the "Worst Movie of 2020" prize, but The Turning just entered the race. As logically absurd as the former might be, at least it has an ending. It's a ridiculous one, but it's, in fact, an ending. The latter not only lacks a payoff to the ninety minutes of build-up, but it has absolutely no redeeming quality. Describing a film in a one-word sentence was never this easy: "nothing". It's a movie about nothing! No meaning, no message, no purpose, no logical sense. An extremely boring journey through a mansion with predictable jump scares, an awkward score, and disappointing acting. It's an emotionless story packed with unanswered questions, and no, it's not one of those "ambiguous narrative" cases. I definitely don't recommend it, unless you desire that frustration of watching an incomplete film.
Rating: F

Amblin Entertainment, DreamWorks Pictures, Universal Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment by Floria Sigismondi, Henry James, Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes.
Stars: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince, Barbara Marten.

Genres: Drama, Horror, Mystery

Keywords: based on novel or book woman director

01/23/2020

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