The Innocents is a disturbing thriller that goes beyond creepy kid horror. The film is about four kids who become friends during summer holiday. When they find they have supernatural abilities, it seems like an avenue for fun and games. It is not long before things take a dark turn. The setting has a very distinct feel to it. The Norwegian release has a chilling atmosphere that is unique to films of that part of the word. Fear almost takes a backseat to the characters. The Innocents is not the first character driven horror movie, but it differs from American films. In movies like Hereditary, the scares are woven into the story. One way is not better than the other, but it is noticeable.
This gives audiences a chance to get a better understanding of the kids. It becomes clear early that Ida is troubled. She acts out in violent ways and seems to be an all around mean child. When she meets Benjamin, things become even worse. She seems to have found someone who can be a friend; instead, he is a partner in crime. This includes a scene that will make most cat lovers stop watching.
Set over the course of a number of summer days, The Innocents has a brightness not normally associated with horror movies. The nighttime scenes are also lit in a way that is not common in the genre. It is another way the film differentiates itself. There is an unexpected brightness to it all. There are also a number of great camera shots that add to the disorienting feel.
The children’s powers are an important part of the movie and are expertly woven in. Writer-director Eskil Vogt never overdoes things. Since they are often downplayed visually, whenever the abilities are shown, it leaves a bigger impact. They end up being some of the most tense moments in the film. This culminates in a fantastic ending that underscores the grounded storytelling.
Along with the setting and tone, the kids’ wardrobes may be the most authentic seen in a while. Most movies that revolve around a younger cast dress them well, but that is also the problem. The outfits tend to look like something that came from the wardrobe department. In The Innocents, it appears as if the children pulled their outfits right out of their own closets.
There is a certain expectation when it comes to creepy kids movies. Based on the premise, it seems like The Innocents is going to be just another one in a long list. The film subverts expectations by building characters instead of using caricatures. It also tells a deeper story than expected. The excellent direction and writing make it stand on its own.
The Innocents comes to select theaters and everywhere you can rent movies Friday, May 13
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