REVIEW: ‘The Turning’ never turns into a good movie

Oh January, you have such a way with horror movies.

“The Turning” is one of the latest scary pictures to get released in the first month of the year, with the type of quality one would expect. It stars Mackenzie Davis as Kate, a young teacher who’s hired to be a tutor for a little, wealthy girl who lives with her brother and their caretaker at a large estate. Since the death of their parents, the girl Flora (Brooklynn Prince) and brother Miles (Finn Wolfhard) don’t get out much.

Despite their social skills being poor, especially with Miles, Kate decides to stick with the job and tries to have a positive impact. However, her teaching Flora and attempts to extend an olive branch to the rebellious Miles are made difficult from an apparent paranormal entity in the mansion.

“The Turning” has its fair share of issues, but one of the biggest is how boring it is. There’s a natural intrigue in wanting to see ‘what’s really going on’ in a movie, but an audience only has so much patience.

After the initial introductions, “The Turning” just falls into a dull repetition, where Miles will do something rather creepy and Kate will be freaked out by it. There’s not much in terms of tension building or an increase in intensity as the movie gets closer to its climax.

Courtesy DreamWorks, Amblin Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment and Universal Pictures

It’s a shame, too, because these performers seemed fine in their roles and these characters could have been taken in a more interesting direction than what happens.

Where “The Turning” really crashes and burns, though, is in its ending, or should I say multiple endings. It seems like the writers here had more than one idea how to end this thing, couldn’t decide, and just used both. Any goodwill toward this movie is sucked out like a vacuum when the movie drops the ball with how it finishes.

One of the problems isn’t just that the movie has multiple endings, it’s that they were so different from each other. There’s a level of mystery the filmmakers wanted to express, where an audience is supposed to guess if what’s happening is real or if it’s all in Kate’s head. This isn’t a bad concept, and in a more abstract picture, it can work quite well.

However, in a more conventional film like this, committing to one or the other works better. Instead, it’s like the creative team wanted it both ways here.

As previously stated, the acting is alright. The young performers put in effort here and Davis actually has some strong moments. The cast was just let down by the material.

Along with an alright cast, the film does have a nice setting, with an old, Gothic house. While the setting does help the overall product, though, the film has a rather generic aesthetic seen in several other horror flicks.

“The Turning” maybe started as a good project with some solid ideas but somewhere along the way it unfortunately veered off course. A dedicated cast and a good setting don’t save this one that’s just bogged down by narrative issues and run of the mill visual identity. 1 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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