The Turning

DreamWorks has already screwed up a remake of 1963’s The Haunting, so now the studio turns to updating The Innocents in a bid to cash in on elevated horror. The classic 1961 thriller remains the best of several adaptations of Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. This latest one is kind of wobbly as a tale of a governess fighting to protect her young charges from a depraved ghost. In this version, Mackenzie Davis gets the job just two days after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. It’s the audience’s first warning that The Turning will sacrifice tension in favor of some social messaging – with the mansion’s housekeeper telling the new hire to remember she’s tutoring children who are “born into privilege.” That means Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) give great performances that still go wasted. The original story is about sweet children struggling to be saved. Here, they’re already expected to be cruel brats out to torment their teacher as she keeps roaming around Spooky Acres. Things really fall apart when screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes – who had more fun remaking House of Wax in 2005 – completely abandon one of the most beautifully tragic endings in both horror literature and film. That leaves The Turning making one final sad ’90s homage. The story wraps up like a lot of pretentious direct-to-video dreck that took over video stores after B-movies started calling themselves “indies.”