By Allyson Kang,
Released on Jan. 24, “The Turning,” a modern adaptation of Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw,” was poorly received by both critics and general audience. With poor transitions, a muddled storyline, terrible CGI and subpar acting, “The Turning” doesn’t even come close to the book it’s based on.
The movie starts off following the flight of a nanny who fails to escape before being killed by an unknown man. The death is explained on television in a cliche transition that informs the audience what we need to know of the story.
The nanny’s replacement is the live-in tutor Kate, played by MacKenzie Davis, who moves into a beautiful house to tutor a young girl named Flora. As soon as Kate steps onto the property, the rushed movie format slows down to linger on random moments.
There, the audience can realize the main problem with the movie. Everything in “The Turning” seems to be an attempt to frighten the audience, so instead of building a cohesive story, it ends up appearing as a checklist of scares.
From the realistic human-sized doll to the odd spiders around the house, nothing is explained or fully connected to an antagonist. The rough transitions worsen the effect, as each shot just moves into the next without any sort of timeline or goal.
While “The Turning” could have at least resorted to becoming just a scary movie, nothing is actually scary. Most scenes are full of jump scares and completely avoidable situations that the tutor Kate seems overly willing to throw herself into.
The only truly scary part of the movie is the amount of disturbingly sexual insinuations by Miles, played by Finn Wolfhard. This is blamed on the influence of Quint’s ghost, whose image is seen in reflections around the house.
At first, this seems to be a somewhat understandable, albeit boring, plot. It appears that Quint had sexually abused and killed the old nanny, and was still tormenting the household with his presence.
However, as soon as “The Turning” reaches the point where Kate flees from Quint with the two children, the flimsy plot falls apart. A rushed backtrack suggests that Kate is actually going insane and had hallucinated the whole movie. It’s insinuated that she had inherited a mental illness from her mother.
From this perspective, Kate seems to be the abuser of the children. It removes any of the audience’s remaining investment in the movie.
Overall, “The Turning” was rather disappointing, not just because it was a waste of time, but because it had all the pieces for a great movie.
The premise was interesting enough, and the cinematography was stunning. The actors did their best with the script, especially Brooklynn Prince, who played Flora.
However, nothing could compensate for the confused plot and lack of flow. In the end, “The Turning” remains a terrible movie and deserving of its 13 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.