CONTAINS SPOILERS, THOUGH IT'S AN OLD ENOUGH AND FAMILIAR ENOUGH STORY, YOU REALLY SHOULD KNOW IT BY NOW
Go watch The Innocents by Jack Clayton instead. That's the best advice one can give regarding this absolute botch job of Henry James' The Turn Of The Screw: track down the 1961 version that's infinitely scarier, infinitely creepier, impeccably crafted and shot: when I saw it a few years ago it genuinely had me hiding behind my sofa. (Hell, track down Michael Winner's trashy prequel The Nightcomers.) By comparison this latest remake is nonsensical, dull, annoying uninteresting throughout and has not one but two endings, neither of which work and neither of which make any rational sense. It's a pity because there are moments when it almost looks like it might be trying to turn into something better, but then messes it up and turns into something substantially worse. Throw in a loathsome brat for whom no amount of blunt force trauma with a chair leg would be considered unreasonable, and 2020 is off to a spectacularly poor start.
Kate (Mackenzie Davis) is the new governess hired to tutor young Flora in a colossal old mansion on a remote Maine estate about the size of Shropshire. Initially things don't go too well, with spooky mannequins, strange noises in the night and a frosty housekeeper making it clear that Kate is not wholly welcome. Nevertheless, she perseveres, until Flora's Damien-in-training older brother Miles turns up unexpectedly. But what happened to the previous governess? Or the live-in riding teacher (???) Peter Quint? Is the house haunted?
The Turning makes you jump a few times with Boo! scares and spiders, but any second division footballer can do that. The wandering around in the dark and the antics of the insufferable Miles quickly get very wearing, and the final stretch abandons its ending and dissolves into incomprehensible nonsense that might be supernatural or might all be in Kate's increasingly hysterical mind, assuming that you still care at this point. (The reason why she returns to the house, having decided to quit, is just silly.) The sudden, abrupt arrival of the closing credits almost suggests a proper ending was never shot and the released version is cobbled together from whatever footage was available. Either way, The Turning is an afternoon thoroughly wasted. Go watch The Innocents by Jack Clayton instead.