The Turning (2020)
Director: Floria Sigismondi
Writers: Carey W. Hayes and Chad Hayes
Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince, and Joely Richardson
Plot: A caretaker moves in to a new place to take care of a couple of orphans, but she gets more than she bargains for when she discovers the dark secrets the house holds.
Review: Twist endings are a risky undertaking. They can either make or break your movie. I’ve seen them make a good movie great. But, they can also do the exact opposite. This is a case where the ending does exactly that. With five minutes left, I couldn’t understand where all of the outrage aimed at this movie was coming from. Sure. It wasn’t great, but it was a spooky enough ghost tale. Then, by the time the credits rolled, I was pissed. Fuck this movie. Such a waste of time and effort.
The biggest factor that works in The Turning’s favor is Mackenzie Davis’s performance. She is someone I’ve admired since I saw her on Halt and Catch Fire five years ago. She has immense talent even if she doesn’t always get the chance to show it. Here though, at least, she gets the chance to shine. I believed her as someone who just wanted what was best for these children. Even when I would’ve given up, she portrayed a caring individual who I could believe wouldn’t abandon her post. Her character was really well written too. Even when things were at their absolute worst, she had the children’s interest first and foremost. Which is another reason why the ending stung so much. They just threw all of that away very unceremoniously. I still don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say it’s disrespectful to that character and the work that Davis put into it.
It’s also disappointing because the director seemed to know what she was doing. Although it was never jump out of your seat scary, Floria Sigismondi created some legitimately creepy gothic moments here. For example, there’s one scene which has our main character walking down the hallway, investigating some noise. They never make a big deal about it, but there is just subtly a shadow following behind her. The camera doesn’t even linger on it. It’s just there for the audience to notice. There’s a couple moments like that too. Where creepy things are happening without making it jumpscare worthy. I was pretty impressed. I still would like to see Sigismondi have another crack at the horror genre. I think she could really pull it off. This one was just a waste.
I’ve never seen a movie throw away so much goodwill so fast. Legitimately, nothing matters when the credits start to roll. Davis’s super strong character work in thrown out the window. Sigismondi’s creepy atmosphere and set up mean nothing. Every plot point. Every ghost sighting. Every Finn Wolfhard being intimidating moment (even if some were laughable). Gone. Meaningless. It’s such an insult to everyone who sat there and paid attention. A spit in the face to the people who ignored the super low Rotten Tomatoes score to go out and give it a chance. The ending of this movie is pathetic and worst of all it makes everything before it worthless by association. I haven’t been this pissed off at a movie in a long time.
TL;DR: A stupid twist ending ruins what was a halfway decent ghost flick.
Rating: 3/10 (Awful)