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Movie Review: THE TURNING

Before I knew for sure what it was, I’d already guessed it, based on the title. Not a big achievement, I know. THE TURNING is an adaptation of Henry James’s classic ghost story THE TURN OF THE SCREW. Given that I love the latter, I figured I’d love the former. Then I realized that the movie updates the story, setting it in modern times. (Or the 90s. Close enough.) Would THE TURN OF THE SCREW work, deprived of its stodgy Victorian underpinnings? Would they be able to capture the spirit—pun intended—of the novel? I knew it had Finn Wolfhard from STRANGER THINGS and was written by the guys who wrote the first two THE CONJURING movies, so I was hopeful. I didn’t know much about music video director turned filmmaker Floria Sigismondi, though. Would the finished product deliver?

Frankly I loved this movie. But I understand why the ending left a lot of folks scratching their heads. I think I figured it out, though, so—SPOILER WARNING!—go see the movie and then come back here and read this. They gave us not one but two endings. They showed how it would end if the ghosts were real and the governess was able to get the kids away from them in time. Then they showed how it would end if she was just crazy and imagining the whole thing. The woman she saw at the end when she screamed was herself, when she realized that she was crazy and locked up in the asylum. It could have been executed better. It was clunky and clumsy, and I suspect this was due to lousy editing more than anything else, the cutting of necessary material that made the ending feel like it came from out of nowhere. Otherwise the movie is brilliantly acted, beautifully filmed, and deftly rendered. If you go into it knowing that the ending is going to be a puzzler, as I did, you will enjoy it much more.

TheCheezman • January 31, 2020

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