Henry James' chilling 1989 novella, The Turn of the Screw, and Jack Clayton's equally masterful 1961 adaptation, The Innocents, are rightly considered to have set the bar for supernatural storytelling in their respective media. Naturally, these masterpieces are hard acts to follow, but with such rich source material to draw from, it is baffling that the final product could have turned out to be such an unfocused, embarrassing snooze-fest.
As any film lover will tell you, the biggest crime a film can commit is to be unremarkable and forgettable. There is not a single scene in this film that you will recall after viewing.
The Turning has been stuck in limbo since early 2016, having started life as Steven Spielberg's "passion project" and intended as his return to horror. Since then it has passed from person to person to the point where all involved simply gave up and declared "meh, screw it, that'll do".
This is the end result...
5. Insulting Exposition
The opening dialogue of The Turning tells you everything you need to know about the quality of writing we are dealing with here, and it's a great indicator of just how much credit the writers are giving us as an audience. The film opens with our protagonist, Kate (Mackenzie Davis), in conversation with her roommate the evening before she leaves to take up residence as a live-in tutor. Of course, every single detail of Kate's new situation has to be spelled out to us in this opening interaction, because, well, you know... we're thick.
"As you know..." syndrome is truly awful, and nothing is explained that anyone with a single, functioning brain cell couldn't piece together themselves as they go, with relative ease. If your writers are blatantly insulting our intelligence within the first few minutes of your film, we aren't getting off to a great start, are we?