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the innocents

★★★★★

starring: Rakel Lenora Flottum, Sam Ashraf, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim, and Alva Brynsmo Ramstad

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

During the bright Nordic summer, a group of children reveal their dark and mysterious powers when the adults aren't looking. In this original and gripping supernatural thriller, playtime takes a dangerous turn.

Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum) and her autistic sister Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad) move to a new Nordic suburb with their parents. Over the course of a summer they start to befriend local children, who each have supernatural powers. As some of the children use their talents to do unspeakable things, the future of the local community hangs in the air.

 

The Innocents begins inoffensively and gently enough. Iva and her sister Anna start to make friends in their new neighborhood, going off and exploring the apartment complex and the nearby woods, making up little games as they go. What starts off as a neat bottle top trick soon descends into something else: supernatural powers wielded by children that start to head off in a dark direction. 

 

What makes The Innocents so compelling is the generally accepted idea that during childhood it's normal to explore and push the boundaries. This is what sits at the heart of The Innocents so that while the killing of a cat is particularly cruel, unfortunately in this context, is quite believable. 

 

This play on a generally held idea and the extremes to which it can be pushed is what makes The Innocents, despite its supernatural premise, so palm sweat inducingly believable. Apart from the cat murder, generally the more horrific elements of The Innocents are played off screen or suggested which just adds to the tension and terror. The superb but horrific finale is played out in near silence in the open under the watchful but inattentive eyes of adults in their neighborhood. Absolutely chilling in the most masterful way. 

 

As well as having an outstanding narrative The Innocents has an equally outstanding cast of children, the best seen on the big screen in years. They bring with them a childlike awe coupled with unwavering brutality. 

 

A simple premise executed masterfully, The Innocents is one of the most compelling yet haunting films of 2022. 

★★★★★