The Turning

In hindsight, I might’ve been too harsh on ‘The Grudge’ (2020)…
Taking immense liberties in adapting Henry James’ fiercely deliberated novella “The Turn of the Screw”, ‘The Turning’ (2020) is a truly unforgivable horror relapse, jettisoning its narrative structure, or lack thereof into a confoundedly unfinished product whose mercifully ninety-five-minute runtime feels like a slog through 1st-act buildup without legitimate progression. ‘The Turning’ (2020) has a semblance of effort towards its execution, boasting a notable visual nuance with the film’s gothic environment and periodic level of clever subtlety when expressing its attempted psychological thriller attitude and legitimately efficient background imagery. Despite the film’s lurching sense of dread, the film’s conspicuous ambiance is immediately undermined by empty conventionality and exhausting redundancy as the film persists in repetitive setup and cheap jump scares that are crucially not scary in the slightest. Leading actress Mackenzie Davis helms a solid pedigree within the performances of the film, gifted a suitably over-the-top role yet admittedly underutilized within the film’s screenplay. With no discernible reason to connect with her character, Davis is relegated to a routine scream queen, which is sadly a crime against her remarkable talents in and of itself. Young actors Brooklynn Prince and Finn Wolfhard, however, fare a bit better, the former able to adorably and energetically charm her way through virtually any scene and the latter through genuinely antagonistic tendencies with ludicrous potential the story eventually diverts from. Thematically, the story begins to tangentially develop character influences upon one another, initially diving into themes of aggressive corruption and manipulative masculinity with negative connotations that lend themselves to not-so-subtle but intelligent enough visual metaphors and conceptually eerie moments. These ideas abruptly disappear with an asinine third-act implication that directly conflicts and alters the narrative of the entire story that precedes it. Questions of rationality come to fruition and negate the admirable themes of sexual assault that were just on the brink of being explored with no proper closure or even concrete answers. Suffice to say, the finale of the film is an utter betrayal to the narrative that came before it as well as the audience as a whole, bookending with something that occurs as if the filmmakers ran out of budget at the last minute or lost a major portion of the screenplay’s third act. ‘The Turning’ (2020) would ultimately remain an uninteresting, stagnant film had it committed to what it was setting up, but at least the film’s malaise would’ve been well-intentioned. Instead, what audiences received stinks to the high heavens, feeling more like an unadorned spirit rearing its ugly head where it’s no longer welcome with truly disgusting residual effects. The film’s talented ensemble and haunting surroundings fail to rescue an impractical project from its lazy frights, poorly edited set-pieces, regressive ideas, and baffling twist that will leave audiences stunned, not by its cunning horror or shocking revelations but by the film’s endeavor to abruptly stop. Sharply turn away from the loose screw that is ‘The Turning’ (2020). Thank you!

Blake liked these reviews