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Innocents, The (1961)

Well, at least it's better than a haunting tale of Victorian corsets

Genre: Period Horror Thriller (UK)

Starring: Deborah Kerr (From Here to EternityThe King and I), Martin Stephens (Village of the Damned (1960))

Directed By: Jack Clayton (Something Wicked This Way ComesThe Great Gatsby)

Overview: A new governess takes over the task of caring for two children, though she is quickly convinced that the estate grounds are haunted.

Period Horror films, super wicked as they are, come few and far between. That's why I was so eager to enjoy my viewing of The Innocents. Aside from being my first assignment for the Final Girl Film Club, the movie sounded pretty cool besides. When one writes a piece as a collective, one might tend to lean towards the "what makes this good" side of the review. I try and fail all too often.

I had many reasons for wanting this review of The Innocents to be a good one.

The film was shot on a vast estate and that just-post-Victorian look of the architecture, the gardens and the pond, well if you've taken a peek at my site you might notice I'm kind of into that vines and wrought iron shite. Throughout the film, much time is spent introducing this true spectacle for the eye as intimately as any character.

And what characters they are. The governess is full of love for the children, a young girl and her older pre-pubescent brother. They're both intelligent, cute and charming orphans, though cast away to the country by a generous uncle who pays for them, yet wants nothing to do with them. Such is their lot in life. It could be worse.

The signs of things amiss begin as soon as our governess sets foot upon the grounds and escalate from there, drawing in the children's fragile, innocent souls, opening up mysteries of a haunted past, and throwing in genuine thrills rather than cheap scares.

So far so good. Except...

For as immersive as The Innocents is, the storytelling is grossely lacking in punch. This smacks all too much of the worst a thriller has to offer: the unfulfilled thrill in favour of suspense.

The mores of the time are well explored, proving indeed that the skeletons in a Victorian closet are certainly a thing more damning than today, but ultimately this film focussed all too much on the Period and not enough on the story.

I know Possession is 9/10s of the law but could we get less growling during class please?
I know Possession is 9/10s of the law but could we get less growling during class please?

Overall Rating: 72% (Innocent or Ignorant?)

As is sometimes the case, a film can be all set up and no conclusion, and with certain films, that can be appropriate, post-modern as this world is. There's movies with no ending, movies with convoluted denouements, and then there's The Innocents, the kind of film that deserves climactic revelation and dramatic finale, though gets nothing more than a cursory question mark before the credits.

There have been very few films that have left me so disappointed in the end, and it's because it began so strong. To end a film so poorly as would make one think the production just ran out of money and had to wrap it up quick, well that just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Ever heard of the Final Girl Film Club?! All Horror, All The Time! Check it out!

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