The Innocents

The Innocents ★★★★½

Hooptober #19

Spoilers

The Innocents is an intelligent and nervously tense horror masterwork. It has a constant creeping sense of unease, as it navigates world of visions and screams. The deep focus cinematography by Freddie Francis is extraordinary and makes for one of the best looking films of its era. The small cast of characters are in a story that almost never leaves a big, dark house, trapping both them and us in their horrors. The Innocents is about a fear of possession, of becoming scared of children who seem otherworldly. Deborah Kerr plays a governess who becomes increasingly disturbed by events around her. Yet the film seems trapped within her mind, as if she both imagines and resolves her fears, at the expense of a child that she is only tender to after death. She is a sexually repressed adult, trying to exert control over her world. The film is perverse in other ways too, suggesting a romance carried out beyond the grave through the bodies of children. The Innocents is a dark horror classic, with a gothic atmosphere used to accentuate a smart script that never patronises the audience. It's a tale of fear that comes from being unable to explain our surroundings, and it remains haunting because such fear exists in every moment of life we cannot understand.

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