PG Score: 3/10
The Turning is a mess of a movie. The litany of shortcomings are only magnified as it drags itself towards a pitiful climax that can’t come soon enough. Director Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways) misfires in almost every department and even with low expectations, the end result is incredibly disappointing. The razor-thin plot follows Kate (Mackenzie Davis), a young woman hired as a live-in governess for two young children after their parents’ deaths. Upon arriving at their wealthy estate, she learns that the Miles (Finn Wolfhard) and Flora (Brooklyn Prince) are dealing with much more than the loss of their mother and father. The plot wastes no time in getting the protagonist to the mansion, where the majority of the film takes place. After a brief introduction to the history of the main setting, Kate is on her way to meet the children. One of the few bright spots is the cinematography associated with the exterior of the mansion and its surrounding area. The rustic structure is expansive and features some impressive shots. There are also a few eye-catching overhead views of the nearby forest and fields. With so many marks going against it, it's that much more important to note the small victory it earns.
Upon her arrival, she is greeted with a cold welcome from their guardian of sorts, the prickly Mrs. Grose (Barbara Marten). She is then acquainted with the brother and sister and it’s clear that the two are both grieving in very different ways. The more reserved Flora is very much withdrawn from reality and this is quite decently portrayed by Prince. She is responsible for arguably the the best performance in the movie, especially given how young she is.
Her older brother, Miles, displays his pain in a much more menacing manner. In fact, an astoundingly large portion of the movie is spent witnessing him act like an absolute jerk. He is sincerely a terror to the utmost degree and the amount of time the viewer is subjected to his deplorable behavior is alarming. It’s repetitive, boring, and most of all, frustrating. This is not a knock on Finn’s performance. He’s a talented actor who is playing the role that was given to him. Unfortunately, his character is extremely one-dimensional with no redeeming qualities. There’s only so much slack an audience can cut a character, even one in his tragic circumstances.
The Turning has plenty of flaws outside of the miserable Miles. For one, Davis’s Kate is preposterously dull. Both the character and the acting leave much to be desired. She comes across as bored and many of her reactions are eye-roll inducing to the maximum extent. Mackenzie has done good work in the past but this a weak point on her résumé. Granted, the writing doesn’t give her much to work with. Secondly, the film relies too heavily on jump scares, many of which don’t even achieve the desired effect. Much of Kate’s time spent meandering around the dark corridors of the property are designed for the “pop-out” gimmicks. Nearly every attempt at horror in TT has been done before. There’s little to no effort to hide its blatant retreads either. Its shamelessness in this area is almost commendable. Almost.
There are many poisons flowing into this well, but one is most glaringly lethal. Supernatural elements aside, the film’s lack of logic is inexcusable. It’s downright nonsensical. There are many questions that are begging to be answered throughout and it seems as though the filmmakers are building towards a climax that will reveal all. Not only do they fail to remove most of those question marks, they add in more. The ending is one of the worst things to ever hit the theater. The final sequence is the equivalent of shooting darts with a blindfold on while hopping on a pogo stick. To call it all over the place would be the understatement of the century.
The Turning is a miss in virtually every sense of the word. There could be (and probably should be) pages upon pages written about how poorly executed it is. The only “turning” that the audience should be doing is for the exit.