The Turning follows a young woman who moves into a mansion home to care for the two children within. As dark happenings occur on the grounds, Kate becomes concerned that the place may be haunted and perhaps tainting the souls of the children.
The Turning Review
I consider it my fault that I went into this film unaware of the original novella's plot. Had I been aware, I could have maybe prepped my mind for being less disappointed in the dull story and its inevitably pointless happenings. A quick Wikipedia gave me the general story and it was even more wacky and drab than the 2020 adaptation. I was driven to know the original because the film was THAT bad in producing anything entertaining or remotely sensible.
The characters and setting are all completely predictable and lack any semblance of originality. We have an unsuspecting woman moving into an old haunted mansion with two creepy kids that have some connection with a dark past and some ghosts. Sounds like a dozen movies, and it mostly behaves like those dozen movies. The haunting slowly builds up, but unlike other films that eventually lead to an epic or startling reveal, we instead are given a jumbled mess of an ending that seemingly tries to grasp at an underlying point, but fails miserably and just leaves the audience feeling cheated.
Seriously, even with the likely intention of the ending, it is directed and cut so poorly that it is an utter disappointment worthy of infamous acclaim. And it's not like the movie was a highly entertaining gem to this point. Hardly. The pacing is incredibly slow with traditional mainstream scary movie tropes in its gradual build of tension. But because the slow crawl eventually leads to nowhere, your heavy eyes aren't even awarded for not falling asleep.
All of the scares are duds and the atmosphere fades as it becomes increasingly apparent there is no legitimate intrigue to be had. And the ending...it's so hard to get over that ending...It gives no resolution to anything the film was building and chooses to take a twist ending with no payoff instead. A twist still has to have reasonable probability. And that's not to say it is so out of bounds that it makes no sense, it's just that the film gives no legitimacy to that path. It's just like, "hey, guess what? This is what's happening! in a very ambiguous and clumsy way that completely cheats the rest of the movie and is an absolute disgrace to proper twist endings. This was like a Saturday Night Live skit with a funny concept that just doesn't know how to end, except the concept, in this case, was also not good.
The film stuck to its gimmick and pushed it to varying degrees of success. The trend of peripheral spirits in the background was put to good effect in James Wan's films and then pushed to new heights in the acclaimed Haunting of Hill House. But since then, it's becoming another cheap ploy to build scares, turning horror movies into a cinematic Where's Waldo of trying to find all of the ghosts floating around in the background. Having said that, the film uses this tactic well at times.
But that is perhaps the only redeemable quality. Finn Wolfhard plays his character well, but that character is just a creep that you want to punch in the face, culminating in the drumming scene above in which you hope any vengeful spirit in the house will just become corporeal already and take him out. But alas, we must endure the dumb children, the color-by-numbers Kate, and of course the cliche life-long maidservant to the bitter end.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 2/10