The Innocents (2022) Movie Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Innocents (2022) Movie Review

Horrorific content by adrian on May 17th, 2022 | Movie Review | Slow Burn, Supernatural, Drama, Psychological, Thriller, Killer Kid

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It's about children with supernatural powers, and the deadly consequences of their use which spirals out of control.

The Innocents was directed by Eskil Vogt and stars Rakel Lenora FløttumAlva Brynsmo RamstadSam AshrafMina Yasmin Bremseth AsheimEllen Dorrit Petersen (Thelma, Shelley), Morten SvartveitKadra YusufLisa TønneNor Erik Vaagland Torgersen, and Irina Eidsvold Tøien.

The Innocents (2022)

Childhood is a crucial time for a child to morally develop, and it also provides opportunities for horror. The lines between evil and innocence can blur very quickly when a child is trying to figure out morality and social norms that teach right and wrong. Unfortunately, these can occasionally be violent lessons. The Innocents is a distressing film that goes further by adding supernatural abilities to create an unsettling experience.

Ida wakes up from a nap in the backseat and sees that her parents are not paying attention. She then pinches her older sister Anna as hard as possible to test if she will feel pain. This is because Anna has regressive autism, which causes her to be unable to speak and seemingly unable to feel pain. Ida is struggling to make friends in her new apartment complex, and her parents are preoccupied with caring for Anna. She finds a friend in Ben, who is lonely and bullied. He shows off his strange gift of telekinesis, which he uses to move a bottle cap. As Aisha, another girl with supernatural abilities enters the picture, the consequences of testing these abilities become more severe.

Vogt, the co-writer of Thelma, has experience with using superpowers to investigate morally complex characters and treating them with compassion. Ida acts as the stand-in for the audience, the neighborhood newbie, and the only child without supernatural abilities. When Ben demonstrates his power, Ida reacts with awe and excitement. She's not scared; she's interested and curious. But unfortunately, that curiosity makes her disposed to cruelty. Ida lives in a home with two adoring parents, while Ben and Aisha come from single-parent homes, establishing an intriguing dichotomy with Ida as the middle ground.

The relationships these children have with each other go back and forth between being really sweet and then suddenly turning cold. Aisha's ability makes people more understanding and compassionate towards her, while Ben's ability makes him seem more in control and powerful. As Ben's power and darkness grow, the stakes become higher, resulting in one of the most upsetting portrayals of animal cruelty (cat lovers beware). This then leads to more death and destruction as evil intentions take hold.

This intimate portrayal of childhood, focusing almost entirely on the young protagonists, sets The Innocents apart. Vogt never explains the rules of this imaginary world directly; it is conveyed through the visual details and the performances. It's the small moments that matter. The way Aisha's mom cries to herself from behind kitchen cabinets when she thinks she alone reveals a great deal about their characters. Ida's connection of Ben's telekinesis to her double-jointed elbow exemplifies childish thinking and lack of fear. Even in how Ben tries to wash away the injuries he caused, he shows no remorse. These details create an immersive world, even if Vogt lingers on some of them for slightly too long.

Worth Watching?

The Innocents is a thought-provoking look at the thin line between good and evil and the dark side of innocence. The four compelling performances add emotional depth and complexity to this disturbing horror film, creating an atmosphere of tension and morality. Vogt amplifies the horror by setting the story under the bright Nordic sun; the terror these kids commit happens right in front of the adults, often in broad daylight, with no one suspecting a thing. The emotional authenticity heightens the horror, creating one of the most gut-wrenching depictions of childhood in recent memory.

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