Sadism not suspense. Ennui rather eerie. THE INNOCENTS is a wretched glacial paced examination of horrid children, an artsy fartsy wallow in callow, callous, telekinetic kids that is tedious and tasteless, trite and repetitive.
If drama is instruction through delight, then THE INNOCENTS is a fright. Yet it fails as a fright movie. Rather it is frightful. I did not feel cold shudders running down my spine. Instead a repulsion to animal cruelty and intellectual impotence that prodded and irritated. Mind numbing rather than spine tingling.
THE INNOCENTS begins with a close up of a sleeping child, comatose in a car, the sunlight playing over her freckled face. It’s a beautiful shot and summons the idea “innocent while sleeping”. A sweet dreamer in contrast to the waking nightmare to come.
The child, Ida, is relocating with her family to a new town. Mum, dad and older sister, Anna, who is afflicted by autism. Anna sucks up most of the parents’ attention and in retaliation, Ida pinches her sibling and places splinters of glass in her slippers.
This charming child meets up with two other kids, Aisha and Ben, and they discover they have supernatural powers. Aisha, an uber empath, can cut through Anna’s autism; Ben, a more malignant character, an alpha toxic male, is a destructive little shit, a malignancy that escalates to matricide and more.
THE INNOCENTS plays out like a children’s version of the classic TV series The Champions, only malevolent and distasteful, the supernatural element distracting.
Writer director Eskil Vogt goes about the film like a somnabulant swimming instructor giving lessons in an empty pool, with a narrative containing the predictability of the snore renting slumber asunder.
At 117 minutes THE INNOCENTS is about a hundred minutes too long, and as pallid as a ray of winter sun