Saturday, April 25, 2020

Blu-ray Review - The Turning (2020)

I've been trying to figure out what the ending of The Turning meant. Did the governess and the children escape the Fairchild Estate? Or was she insane like her mother?

The Turning (Available on Blu-ray & DVD) is a modernized adaptation of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo planned to direct the film under the title Haunted, but the producers replaced him with Floria Sigismondi.

Set in 1994, the film centers on Kate Mandel (played by Mackenzie Davis), a teacher who takes a job as governess for a seven-year-old, Flora Fairchild (played by Brooklynn Prince), at the isolated Fairchild Estate. Flora has an older brother, Miles (played by Finn Wolfhard), who's at a boarding school. Some time ago, their parents died in a car accident, leaving Mrs. Grose (played by Barbara Marten) as their only caregiver. Their former governess, Miss Jessel, had mysteriously disappeared.

On the night of Kate's arrival, Miles returns homes after being suspended from boarding school for getting into a fight with another student. Soon after meeting the boy, Kate suspects there's something sadistically wrong with him.

Deeply traumatized by her parent's death, Flora is now afraid to leave the estate. Sometimes she acts oddly similar to the way Miles lashes out. Together, they like to play cruel pranks on their new governess.

Kate suspects either something supernatural is happening at Fairchild Estate or she's going bat-crazy.

Final Thoughts

After watching The Turning late last night, I got a goodnight's rest before writing my review, so I could wrap my mind around the bizarre ending. Seriously? What the hell was that about? Somebody, please explain it to me.

The movie has the perfect Gothic atmosphere for a creepy horror flick, but somehow the filmmakers screwed it all up. How can this happen? Everything you need is right there in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. I'm wondering if they changed the ending in post-production. The film would originally release in February 2019 but got delayed until January 2020. Why?
"Let's change the ending, so nobody will ever understand it!"

There's a three-minute alternate ending on the Blu-ray. It's not the greatest, but it's better than the final version.

At the beginning of the movie, they mentioned Kurt Cobain's death, which would set the film in 1994, but Kate's apartment and her clothes resemble the 1970s. Miles's clothes also have a 70ish feel, and Flora wears dresses from the 1900s. Did anyone give the costume designer a memo about the movie's setting?

The film's score by Nathan Barr is the best thing in the entire movie. The music has a perfect mixture of dread and despair.

Overall, I'm disappointed with The Turning. It has a great cast, a creepy Gothic setting, and music to match, but the movie falls apart in the last act.

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