When you go out to see a new movie in the theater, you would think that the movie you’re paying to see is fully realized and ready for audiences to watch and judge. Even when a movie is lackluster or even just plain bad, there is still a structure of some sort to it that at least makes it feel like a finished movie. When the credits for The Turning started rolling and the lights came up, I had a feeling that I rarely have when I leave a theater. It was a mix of confusion, disappointment, and frustration. I certainly wasn’t alone.
Directed by Floria Sigismondi, the story follows a young woman named Kate (Mackenzie Davis) who accepts a job offer to be a live-in tutor for two orphaned children who live with their maid in a massive mansion. The children, played by Brooklyn Prince from The Florida Project and Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things, are both different from other children and have lived a lavish life. As Kate settles into her new job, she begins to sense that something isn’t quite right in this home and these children are unsettling. While the children begin to push back against Kate’s new role in the house, the demons of this family begin to torment Kate and drive her to the edge of insanity.
The biggest problem that this movie has is also the most confusing aspect of it: there wasn’t technically an ending. (Spoilers) The last 20 minutes results in nothing but an unfortunate misdirection with no resolve to what’s already taken place.
The feeling of frustration was palpable in the theater. It was as if the filmmakers hit a wall in the story and instead of finding a way around it, they just hit the “I give up, roll the credits” button. The characters had no resolution, the story had no conclusion, there was really no way of telling who was alive or dead at the end or if any of it had actually happened or if it was just a crazy dream. The escape scene was slightly exciting and almost made the movie feel like something was actually happening, but in the end it all just came to a disappointing and unsatisfying end.
The rest of the movie doesn’t have a lot to talk about either. The only acting performance that was enjoyable was Brooklyn Prince who played an extremely creepy and weird little girl. Finn Wolfhard basically just played a normal pissed off teenager which wasn’t all that special compared to his work in other projects. The movie relied heavily on silly jump-scares that were predictable and weren’t very frightening. The setting was a good choice for the overall vibe of the story. The mansion and the surrounding property were very ominous and almost reminiscent of The Shinning.
If this movie was taken back into the studio and given a proper ending, it could actually be a decent horror movie. When the trailer first came out, The Turning looked like a pretty interesting and freaky horror movie. Having seen it, the trailer was almost better than the movie.