The Innocents (1961)

Article #432 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing day: 5-21-2002
Posting day: 10-14-2002

A governess takes over the care of two children, but begins to believe that they are possessed by the evil ghosts of their previous governess and the valet.

Years ago I tried to read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but back then I didn’t have the patience to really follow the subtleties of the story; since then, I’ve learned a bit more about how to read him. I may give the story another shot, if for no other reason than to find out if it’s as relentlessly ambiguous as this cinematic adaptation of the story. In fact, this movie is so intent on not tipping its hand one way or another it becomes a little tiresome; however the literate script and the exquisite performances by every person in the cast more than compensate for this. I’d seen this movie years ago, but the only thing I remembered back then was the haunting final moment; it’s still here, and more than that I can also appreciate the fine direction and the wonderful use of sound; I’ve always believed that nothing can enhance the mood of a horror movie like creative use of sound effects, and this movie uses a lot of them.

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