Kids are creepy, man. Films like Village of the Damned, Children of the Corn, and of course The Omen have done for youngsters what Jaws did for sharks, and The Worst Person in the World’s co-writer Eskil Vogt’s latest chiller certainly deserves to stand among these great works.
The compellingly disturbing fable follows nine-year-old Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum), a bored young girl in Oslo who forges friendships with neighbourhood kids Ben (Sam Ashraf) and Aisha (Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim) that soon become sinister as the children begin to show signs of dark, psychic powers.
With some truly uncomfortable and gruesome moments that will linger in the mind (cat lovers beware), The Innocents is a harrowing allegory for those formative years of childhood. While some of the film’s supernatural elements are kept rather frustratingly vague at times, the nightmarish and surprisingly low-key delivery feels like a dark bedtime story that would have the Brothers Grimm enraptured. And as the film is told entirely from the perspective of children, it makes narrative sense for them to not question or investigate these powers – but rather utilise them without considering the consequences…
The Innocents is certainly not a film that you enjoy, and yet it is impossible to look away – although the film does threaten to outstay its welcome with oft-slow pacing in its 2-hour runtime. Still, beautifully minimalist visuals and haunting sound design get under the skin while the intense moments of violence are visceral and impactful. And thankfully, the child cast are remarkable – we all know that a film like this succeeds or fails on the strength (or lack thereof) of its young cast, and thankfully The Innocents soars.
The Innocents is an unforgettable, twisted fairytale.