‘The Turning’ has turned me off on horror movies

February 14, 2020

To be completely honest, I am not an avid horror movie enthusiast. That being said, I still appreciate the thrill and adrenaline rush that comes from good scares in movies like “The Boy,” “The Conjuring” and “Get Out.” These films, classic and original in their own right, often have the common similarities of horror movies that make them dramatic, such as frequent jump scares and creepy music. But nothing follows the cliché horror movie playbook as much as “The Turning,” a recent update on Henry James’ 19th-century novella, “The Turn of the Screw.” From the giant eerie mansion and bodies of water to the ghost-like figures popping up in mirrors, there is nothing original about this movie, leaving a hopeful audience disappointed. 

The opening scene depicts a young girl frantically running out of a mansion to her car, crying and clearly distressed. Unfortunately, the audience never really finds out the fate of this girl although there are some vague hints toward the end. Though the opening scene set a tone that gave hope for the rest of the hour and a half, the remainder failed miserably to meet standards, and apparently everyone else’s, as the movie received a 13 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Turning” then shifts to the main plotline: Kate (Mackenzie Davis) accepts a job as a live-in private tutor for an orphan named Flora (Brooklynn Prince). Upon arrival, she is immediately frightened by the caretaker of the home, Mrs. Grose (Barbra Marten), a creepy old woman covering up scary incidents from her past to keep Kate there. Clearly, very original. 

Time goes on, and Flora’s brother, Miles (Finn Wolfhard), comes home from boarding school because he was expelled for trying to kill another kid, which is just the tipping point of his strangeness; it is immediately clear that he derives pleasure from making Kate, as well as the audience, uncomfortable. While Kate appears scared for her life multiple times, she never makes the intelligent choice to leave, once again reminding me of the horror movie stereotypes this movie loves. 

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Flora as seen on the movie cover

As for the ending, there are no spoilers to give because it is completely unclear what happened. It seems as though Kate took the kids out of the house before the ghosts, yes ghosts,  murdered them, but then it flashed back to her in the mansion as if nothing happened. The credits started rolling, leaving the audience completely confused as to what they just spent $12 and an hour and a half on. At this point, I started wondering whether footage was missing or accidentally skipped over at the theater, but no. By looking up an explanation online, it is clear every other viewer was just as confused. Unfortunately, it was not like “Us,” which requires some dot-connecting but is not impossible to figure out. “The Turning” doesn’t give enough information to work with to reach your own conclusion. 

Watching “The Turning” was a complete waste of a Friday night. If you are looking for a good horror movie that is genuinely scary, real jumpscares and an original plot, look elsewhere. Turn around, because this movie is not for you.


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