The Turning is a confusing mess. I am jumping straight into this one because, really, there is no need to spend much time on it. One of the moments in this movie that symbolizes the jarring disjointed-ness of it was towards the end. The main character, Kate Mendell (Mackenzie Davis, and honestly, the film was half over and I was having trouble remembering her name) was involved in a tense scene where she was trapped with the “demons” (more on why I put that into quotes later) in the basement of the mansion where she served as a nanny/teacher. She is scared out of her wits (and more about that later as well), screaming and running blindly around . . . and all of the sudden, smack in the middle of the mayhem, it cuts to a placid scene of Flora Fairchild (Brooklynn Prince) and Mrs. Grose (Barbara Marten) playing chess and eating pop tarts. It is quite early in this review and I have not contextualized what is going on at all. But trust me on this one, it just seemed tossed in for the heck of it.
I had to get that off my chest, and I wanted that to be born in mind as you read the rest of my review of The Turning. So Kate gets hired by this wealthy family to be a live-in nanny and instructor for Flora (on a side note, I feel like it was a real missed opportunity not to name her brother Fauna, but I take it that would not have been the tone director Floria “Not a Clue” Sigismondi was going for). Her brother, Miles Fairchild (Finn Wolfhard) shows up soon after, having been kicked out of his boarding school. Mrs. Grose, the live-in cook, describes the apparently orphaned children as “thoroughbreds,” and as such they should be treated as prize-winning humans. Read that as coddled and deferred to no matter how they behaved. If you know anything about thorough-bred horses, and this was a half-hearted theme throughout the film, they often behave in odd, some might say crazy, ways. So Kate walks wide-eyed and eager into an ornate asylum.
The question I kept asking myself while watching The Turning was: WHY THE HECK ARE STAYING IN THIS NUT HOUSE, KATE?! I guess it all rode on the promise that she made to Flora that she would not leave like previous nannies had done. That is cute, but when I start seeing ghosts (or what we are led to believe are ghosts), I am leaving. Instead, we are “treated” to scene after repetitive scene of insanity breaking out and Kate finding some way of rationalizing it. Even my girlfriend, who is startled by jump-scares, was finding it all a bit tedious. And yet, (spoiler alert) just when we finally get a sensible decision from Kate to scoop up the children and get out of that awful place, we come to find out that her doing so was just a fantasy. Instead, we are forced to relive the last fifteen minutes of the movie twice while it tells us that, rather than being a tale of ghouls and things that go bump in the night (i.e. no actual demons), Kate is just out of her gourd insane. So what was the point? Was Kate this way the entire time? Who the heck cares?
To top it all off, The Turning throws in a few scenes of suggested torture and rape. Thus there really was nothing to latch on in this movie. This may be an oft-repeated phrase of mine, but, call me a square Catholic, I just do not want to see these things. There is no hope, there is no compassion, in the end. There was just sadness, insanity, and spoiled entitlement. Pass.