The ending is terrible, but in an interview with director Floria Sigismondi we learn another version of the ending was shot.
SIGISMONDI: There are some deleted scenes that you’ll eventually see in the extras. It’s always a process to home in on what’s best for the film. There’s another version of an ending you’ll see… but it was always in service of streamlining and condensing.The Turning Director Floria Sigismondi on its Hidden Meaning | Collider
Am sure when the Blu-ray/UHD or digital version comes out that ending will be part of the sales appeal. My only curiosity is what is the chance that alternate ending is much better? We’ll know if/when that is released. I’ve read a bunch of complaints from moviegoers about the ending being anywhere from disappointing to abrupt to irritating.
Good time to stop readers and say, it’s SPOILER territory that follows. This is a critique, so revealing anything and everything is fair ground in this post to trample over.
… you’ve been warned SPOILERS ahead …
No Scares for Horror
Probably the biggest sin any horror movie that isn’t a horror-comedy commits is not being scary. There are various attempts here, but the familiar just has horror fans saying to themselves, yup, seen it before. As stated in my review, the cliches came slow and unsurprisingly. There was little creative effort in execution and effort.
Spiders? They can be super scary, but in the trailer we saw the spider coming out of the mouth. So we already know that one is coming. They should have not featured that in the trailer.
Jump scares, ahh yes, the jump scare. Luckily there aren’t too many of these here, but less is always more.
Sound good, acting not so much
I liked the sound effects and that low bass drum pounding. It started to set the mood, but was often ruined by the character Miles played by Finn Wolfhard clearly overacting weird. Wish he had downplayed the weirdness with more innocence and subtlety. Or maybe if he started off as more friendly and less aloof and then changed as Kate (Mackenzie Davis) started to detect that the house wasn’t right.
Where to begin with Mackenzie Davis? Have seen her now in two very uninspired roles. In Terminator: Dark Fate⭐️⭐️½ she might as well have been reading the ingredients on a cereal box while jumping around in an action frenzy. Here, she utters most lines blurting and whining. I was annoyed when she spoke several times in the movie. It’s like hey, this kid Miles is weird, why not try hitting him with a joke to lighten the mood? Instead you’re trying to outweird his weirdness by displaying unconvincing shock and dismay. Like the ball scene where he’s being intentionally annoying, wasn’t that a perfect time for her to crack some funny joke and instead of trying to draw out some fake, overplayed drama? Where was the director watching this performance in the dailies and/or live on the set, saying, “cut!” counseling and reshooting?
We can’t always blame terrible acting on the script. I’m not in that camp that blames everything on the script. Yes, this script is abysmal, but that’s not a get out of jail free card. There are plenty of examples where you can say the actors and actresses did what they could with lousy material. I’m struggling to place all the blame on the script here.
Two bad acting roles in less than six months and one in a movie with $100+ million budget? That should spell uncertainty for your career, but no, we’ll see Mackenzie again. In fact, she’s in the political comedy Irresistible coming out May 29, 2020 and filming another movie. Hollywood is all about Mackenzie Davis!
Here’s an idea, give another actress in the talent pool a shot and send Mackenzie to the theater circuit to re-hone her craft. In fairness, she had some film festival accolades with Always Shine (2016) and Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town (2017). I haven’t seen either of those films, so maybe I’ve missed her impressive acting in something good. Acting poorly in multiple films to me anyway should have at least some career setbacks when there is a massive talent pool of quality actresses waiting. Proper casting is important!
Brooklyn Prince as Flora was a little better.
The most earnest acting performance was turned in by Barbara Marten as Mrs. Grose. She played the family caretaker frumpy, awkward and yet somehow endearing. Viewers get the sense her admiration for the children is real. However, it is a bit hard to understand how she is completely nonplussed by the evil presence in the house. You can kinda forgive her overlooking Miles precocious behavior, but what about the house? It’s like she goes around cooking, cleaning and ignoring the east wing of the house like, “yeah, there’s some bad stuff going on in that side of the house, but I better get my vacuuming done.”
The Evil That Men Do
Is it just coincidence that there are zero redeemable male characters in this movie? Miles character is anything but good and the male spirit is psychotic at best. Why is it that so many movies are doing this? Focusing too much on women and if there are men, they are antagonists. Can we get a token decent male character once in awhile for some sort of balance? Not all men are evil incarnate, yes, even in horror. I’m seeing more and more films where men are treated like cigarette smoking (only the bad guys are smokers)
Script is a complete, utter mess
Most blame can be pointed to the script which is plodding, burdened with cliches and fouled by pacing missteps and weak dialogue. Does anybody talk like that? Had more than a few instances where I just shook my head and dove into my popcorn bucket for solace.
Cinemascore doesn’t give that many films an F grade and we’re not even done with the first month of 2020 and this is the second film with that onerous distinction.
Maybe filmmakers should steer away from adapting The Turn of The Screw? It’s a good story, but there are plenty of fresh stories deserving an adaptation versus returning to something that already has several adaptations.
Reviews by Others
Was surprised to find some positive reviews from others for The Turning, but the reality is no matter how bad or good I think a movie is, there is always somebody else out there that has the opposite opinion. Actually found a few out there who think the ending is good! Not putting that out there as a criticism for other moviegoers/reviewers, because I’ve said it several times here before: art is subjective and your opinion is yours alone.
Shouldn’t let me or anybody else make you feel good or bad about how you feel about movies. If you like something I dislike, that’s great. Finding movies we are entertained and enjoy is what it’s all about.
- Madison McSweeney: “I liked The Turning. You may not – but if you go in with the right attitude, you’ll find it’s more interesting than you’d been led to believe.”
- reviewandrepeat: “This movie felt like a mash-up between The Haunting of Hill House and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the best way possible. It threw so many things at you that it felt like it was trying too hard to be a “horror” movie. But once you get to the end it’s like a light bulb goes off and the entire movie makes so much sense.”
- Shane Moose (7.5/10): “It has a few genuine scares, a very chilling atmosphere, but most importantly, you have great actors giving great performances. This may not be the best ghost story on film, but I personally recommend it.”
- The Monster Lady (7/10): “In this movies defense, ghost stories back in the day were A LOT more subtle than what we’re used to seeing now. I enjoyed this jigsaw puzzle of a movie, although there were way too many plot holes that did not make sense.”
- Becky Tyler Photography: “This abrupt nonsensical ending ruins what would have been a fine entry into the gothic haunted house sub-genre of horror films. Maybe one day we will get a directors cut with a proper ending. Until then, I suggest you not waste money on this one. One of the worst endings I have seen in recent memory.”
- Bob Foster: “…is a rental at best. There are elements that almost work, but are bogged down by those that don’t, especially the truly awful ending. “
- Davis Pittman / AIPT: “It’s a real shame this film is such a narrative mess because this cast deserves better material but all I can hope is that studios stop greenlighting sloppy scripts like this.”
- Emily Jacobsen / Film Daze: “It feels like The Turning is something we have seen many times before.”
- Halloween Year Round: “…gives us great performances by a strong, but small ensemble, and has great potential. But sadly that potential is wasted on a ending that attempts to be artistic, but fails to put in the foundation to properly pull it off.”
- Jason’s Movie Blog (1.6/5): “…had potential to be something worth exploring (both narratively and cinematically), but ends up just muddling its presentation; crushing its spooky haunted house premise with unsatisfying feature with a lame ending.”
- Ready Steady Cut: “…the trajectory of The Turning is essentially that of a so-so January ghost movie that carries itself well enough for a lot of the runtime and then runs headfirst into a wall. There’s enough here to satisfy the most desperate haunted house movie junkies but even they will be left slack-jawed.”
- RogerInOrlando (1.5/4): “…there’s no terror, here. None.”
- Ross Bonamie: “…is a poor execution of James’ story, a vague, scare-free film that never seems to quite know what kind of story it wants to tell.”
- The80sTom (1/5): “In conclusion, as many others have said, don’t waste your time or money with this film. You’ll have a better time flushing it down the toilet than spending it on this monstrosity.”
- The Critic’s Sanctum: “I left the theater confused and shocked. I personally enjoyed the movie, but think the litany of flaws and issues makes it impossible to recommend outside of a few niche people that can find enjoyment in less than ideal movies.”
- What Went Wrong or Right With? “This film is an example of someone throwing every horror cliche at the screen hoping one of them will stick: wet ghostly footprints, a torch in a dark hallway, misty lakes, “look behind you” jump scares, apparitions in reflected surfaces, but unfortunately none of them work.”
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