|MOVIE DETAILS |
• Name: The Innocents (aka De uskyldige)
• Year: 2021
• Country: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, United Kingdom
• Director: Eskil Vogt
• Main cast: Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Sam Ashraf, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim
• Runtime: 117 minutes
• Production company: Zentropa Sweden, Mer Film, Snowglobe
After an extensive film festival run through 2021 and 2022 where it was screened in genre and general festivals, including Cannes Film Festival, Norwegian International Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, Sitges Film Festival, and Fantasy Filmfest, and collected a good amount of awards and nominations, the film The Innocents (2021), also known as De uskyldige in the original Norwegian language, finally landed in the Shudder streaming platform last month. The film premise is as simple as the development of the story gets dense: a group of kids discovers they have superpowers during the summer vacations.
Ida and Anna are two sisters that move with their parents to a new apartment complex after the father got a new job. Anna, the older sister, suffers from autism disorder and gets all the attention and dedication of her parents, and that frustrates Ida; as a nine years old little girl she knows no better. And in the playground of that new residence, they meet Ben, a boy with a troubled mother, and Aisha, a shy but very smart girl. The four soon become friends and sharing the typical kids’ games in the playground and the forest they realize they have supernatural abilities and telekinetic powers that can lead them to move objects or to communicate with their minds.
But what starts like innocent kids’ games soon takes a nasty twist when those powers enable the little ones to damage others. And here is when the movie takes a very dark tone.
The movie that the writer and director Eskil Vogt propose here is one that questions what is right and what is wrong, and perhaps even crosses some lines that for some people a piece of entertainment should not cross. We have seen kids committing horrifying acts in films before, like both Village of the Damned (1960) and its John Carpenter remake Village of the Damned (1995), David Cronenberg’s The Brood (1979), Brightburn (2019), or The Omen (1976) and its saga. But this time the kids are just regular kids, they are not strange experiments, devil incarnations, or the result of alien forces playing with us humans.
As a movie, it has very few flaws. The story is solid and very engaging from the very first second, and the way the story evolves through the running time keeps growing up the tension going from what could be any European family drama into a display of pure horror that ensures the audience will never take the eyes away from the screen. The events are never graphically violent, it is not a gorefest, but the story is very wicked and it’s built masterfully. In visual terms, the movie is almost impeccable, a collection of film postcards with superb cinematographic work. And we can’t end the list of merits without praising the excellent work of the four protagonist kids in a movie where they monopolize the screen quota and the adults are mere secondary elements.
But, as it was mentioned before, Eskil Vogt takes a big risk with The Innocents (2021). Some people claim those kids could get traumatized once they realized what characters they played, and what monstrous acts they commit. Others see the film as a pamphlet of racism and classism propaganda. The director Eskil Vogt is not a newby of this circus that is the movies industry, he achieved big popularity and attention with his awards-winner debut film Blind (2014) and he was also the executive producer and writer of Thelma (2017), one of the most notorious horror films that came from the Scandinavian countries in the last years. So no one can be naive enough to think he didn’t anticipate all the negative reactions and interpretations his film would have. Is there a white supremacist message behind the movie? Was he trying to make a statement against the lazy and accommodating our First World society has become, especially in a wealthy country like Norway? Personally, I assume he had no second intentions or messages in this film, he just took the chance to make a risky and exciting feature; but maybe it’s me who is the naive one.
Controversy aside, The Innocents (2021) is a very recommended watch. Perhaps it can bring you nightmares once you witness some of the events that happen in the film, or perhaps you can just enjoy a little bit of fresh air, a little bit of danger, a movie that doesn’t conform with the sugar that we are used to ingesting massively coming from the big production firms. Because, one thing is for sure, in The Innocents (2021) we witness a clash of superheroes that is more powerful and intense than any lousy Marvel production, that anything that Disney is endorsing. And that is with almost no special effects or action sequences, just with a brilliant story, exciting filmmaking, and the excellent work of a director with his kid actors. Watch the movie and you’ll know which one I am talking about. I get goosebumps just remembering it.
IMDB URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4028464