Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: The Turning

2 of 5 viewers "Liked" "The Turning" (2020, USA)
Creature reviews have been minimally altered in an attempt to maintain their voice:

KillDozer - "What can you say about a film that truly forces its audience to look deep into their film going experience and wonder, "what the hell just happened". Some theatre goers were inspired to literally yell out "I want my refund!" and "this is a gay ass movie!" - yes grown adults and teens alike were not happy about this chaotic descent into madness that was promoted as a ghost story with kids. Obviously, this elevated my experience with the film as the confusion I felt was a welcomed one. I went in for what I thought would be a boring and weak attempt at gothic horror and instead was served with a confusing mess that inspired great conversation and fantastic theories about "what the hell happened". Make no mistake I would not recommend this film to just any casual genre lover. The audience for this one is specific to those who can handle and have fun with a confusing ghost story thrust into a decent-into-madness madness wrapped in a mystery." - 2.5 Stars

Lord Battle - "One might find it strange that a film would open with a television announcement that Kurt Cobain was found dead. Honestly, I found this strange too, but after some quick IMDB sleuth work I discovered the director of The Turning, Floria Sigismondi is somewhat of music video royalty whose claim to fame is the "jittery" camera work found in Marilyn Manson's The Beautiful People. Anyway, The Turning is a strange mix of classic Gothic Horror and Pretty Girl Ghost Mystery, which definitely reads like the writer wanted the former and the production wanted the latter. The end product is a beautifully shot film that facilitates my new favorite The Shinning-esque drone shot, which rises up through a tree to catch a car driving to the haunted mansion. I also really enjoyed our lead Kate played by Mackenzie Davis, who you may know as Grace aka the best part of Terminator: Dark Fate. The Turning's other standout performance comes from Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) whose name makes me cringe but whose portrayal of Flora was amazing (Little kid characters 99% of the time instantly ruin films, she, however, enhanced it). It's a shame some great performances, a fantasy inducing location, and a consistently beautifully frame can't undo the mess created by production rewrites and a strange adaptation of an 18th-century novella. " - 3 Stars

The Impostor - "January has had a horror film released just about every week and is known to house throw away horror releases. The Turning is keeping the train running for bad film January. I hoped and hoped to enjoy this film and sadly it failed me. I had no idea what was goin on for most of the film but hoped for a conclusion to fix that. The end it left me with way more questions than it needed to. If I'd watched The Turning at home I'm 90% sure I would have turned it off. While some parts kept me engaged and the young actress who played Flora did a great job in her role, the rest fell flat for me. The spirits or whatever kind of ghost like presence in the estate honestly looked pretty Goosebumps to me and didn't scary me one bit. The jump scares weren't effective either.  Overall pretty bummed I didn't enjoy The Turning as much as I'd hoped but maybe the book it's based on is better?" - 2 Stars

Huntress - "Wow, what a weird movie. It’s full of great settings and beautiful visuals, but the story seems to be missing some pieces. I was repeatedly led through dreamy scenes and shadowy mansion exploration that felt like they ended abruptly, or like some connecting tissue had been removed. The property this was filmed on - the maze-like mansion, various overgrown forest, neglected koi pond - was amazing, and absolutely not the kind of place small children should be allowed to roam without supervision, but that added to the fantastical element of the whole situation. Brooklynn Prince's performance was so effortless and natural, I got the feeling she didn't even get a script but ad-libbed most of her scenes. It's a bummer that the end was so confusing and jumbled, but the good elements of The Turning have already pushed the many boring parts out of my memory." - 3 Stars

Math Mage - "What bothered me the most about this film was the lack of awkwardness, even though every scene felt as if it was the first time that the characters met. Perhaps this was intentional, but not likely. The film seemed to have been extensively reworked, probably several times. Especially the boy's reactions during the fake ending. It may have been intended as a clue that it wasn't real, but his inconsistent personality (while not unrealistic) made it impossible to judge. I was expecting a reveal that the kids were psychic, and the ghosts were projections or prisoners of the kids. (Our heroine can see the ghosts cuz she's psychic, as shown when the kids notice her noticing the ghosts) Maybe that's me wishing for a better movie or maybe that ending didn't test well. - 2 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

The Turning marks our third voyage into a mall cineplex in 2020 and each trip has yielded some strange cinema experiences. As we ventured into the screening room that was housing The Turning, we joked that this newly converted broom closet was quite acceptable. The crowd was sparse (not unusual) and after the film started, completely quiet (incredibly suspicious), not counting the 3 separate times that a cell phone crashed to the floor...

The film played out like your traditional Pretty Girl Ghost Mystery (ala The Ring, The Awakening, The Haunting of Helena) for the first act, but by act 2, it was clear this film really wanted to be a Gothic Horror (Crimson Peak, The Woman in Black)... Just to help distinguish this conflict, The Turning opens with Kate saying goodbye to her roommate/apartment and her mother, who we see painting a portrait of Kate alone in a drained pool which is part of a repurposed building now being used as a mental health ward? These strange details feel presented as clues or puzzle pieces for our pretty lead to unravel in the second act. Yet when we reach act 2 we are narratively still spending a lot of time exploring the giant mansion sandbox and discovering the not so nuanced nuances of the Fairchild family, or what's left of it. This expectation of pace built into our general audiences made for a spectacular let down.

As the credits rolled over Kate's hand slowing sliding along the beautifully ornate walls of the mansion. Her figure nail beds bloodied from being picked nervously as she descended into madness, clearly, a decision made to save the film after some test screenings presented the unwanted Gothic Horror... an audience member who sat quietly throughout the entire film stood up and yelled, "I want a refund, that movie was gay!". The sentiment was echoed by another audience member much closer to the front row where the Overlook sat. "Right?! That was gay." rang the second outraged filmgoer. It's been a few years since I had heard the word GAY used in this context and I must say, it perfectly illustrated the frustration of an audience unable to identify why it's frustrated.

Once in the lobby, where we learned more about the novella, The Turn of the Screw, KillDozer clarified something said during the closing credits chaos. A member of the couple behind us blamed the other for flipping the coin that had sealed their fate and decided they'd be spending date night watching The Turning.

- Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a Century Theater for a screening on 1/23/2019
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

No comments:

Post a Comment