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The Innocents Is a Slow-Burn Masterpiece

A lot of people think creepy kids are overplayed, and to an extent, they’re right. So many movies have gone this route that it’s tough to do anything new with the idea. But it’s not impossible. Good filmmakers will always find creative and exciting ways to breathe new life into tired old genre tropes, and The Innocents is a great example of that.

The film was written and directed by Eskil Vogt, and it stars Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim, and Sam Ashraf. It’s about a group of four young kids who discover that they have superpowers like telepathy and telekinesis, and as you might expect, what started out as innocent play soon takes a dark and deadly turn for the worse.

When I first heard about The Innocents, I thought it had a really intriguing premise, and after getting a chance to see the movie, I’m happy to report that it totally lives up to its potential. For starters, the acting in this film is very good. In particular, I was really impressed by the kids. Child actors are notoriously hit or miss, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this cast.

But thankfully, they completely nailed it. I totally believed that these were real kids rather than actors reading lines, so I had no trouble buying into them from the very beginning. I loved seeing all four of them whenever they were on screen, so I grew to care about them very quickly.

A girl looking out a window

What’s more, The Innocents really takes its time fleshing these characters out and letting you get to know them, so by the time the horror hits, you’re totally invested in the entire group. You still care about them even when they become evil, so they’re some of the most sympathetic horror villains I’ve ever seen.

In fact, I’d even say that when they go on the attack, you’ll care just as much about the moral harm they’re doing to themselves as you will about the physical harm they’re doing to their victims. They’re such great characters that you never stop loving them no matter what they do, and that’s really the backbone of this entire movie.

But it’s not the only thing The Innocents gets right. It also does a really good job of slowly introducing you to the kids’ powers and then building them up in a very natural, organic way. At first, it’s just one kid who can move very small rocks, and then we meet a girl who seems to be telepathic.

After that, the children test their abilities and slowly learn just how powerful they really are, and this adds some intriguing wrinkles to the movie’s fairly straightforward premise. Most notably, the kids’ abilities are intertwined in a really interesting way. They seem to feed off one another and give each other new powers, so the film keeps you on your toes as they explore these strange new gifts.

That being said, this is also the one area where The Innocents does stumble a little. As much as I loved seeing these kids discover their newfound abilities, and as well as this part of the movie flows overall, there are a few times when it seems like the children gain new powers out of the blue. Those moments feel just the slightest bit unnatural, so I think the film would’ve benefited from maybe 10 or 15 extra minutes to flesh out the story a little more.

A girl looking concerned

Last but not least, let’s talk about the horror. The Innocents is a very slow burn, so don’t go into it looking for chills and thrills right from the get-go. Like I said, it takes its time building up the main characters and their abilities, and that’s basically the entire first half of the film. Then, in the second half, when the horror finally comes, it hits pretty hard.

Granted, it never gets bonkers the way, say, Hereditary does, so it’s still pretty slow. It feels more like a drama punctuated by a handful of horror scenes, but those scenes are all really good. Director Eskil Vogt does a great job of making them suspenseful and creepy, so even when you know exactly what’s going to happen, the way he gets you there is still well worth the ride.

Then, in the finale, The Innocents takes a step back and ends on a very understated note. I won’t spoil what happens, but I’ll just say that it’s not at all what I was expecting. However, after seeing it, I actually think it was the exact right narrative choice. While a crazy third act could’ve worked just fine, the route the filmmakers chose fits the story and the tone of the movie much better. It feels like the way this film should’ve ended, so when the credits began to roll, I was completely satisfied.

In fact, I’d even say that The Innocents is probably going to end up being one of my favorite horror films of 2022. Sure, we’re not even halfway through the year yet, but I’m confident that it’s going to hold up pretty well against everything else that will be coming our way in the next several months. It has great, sympathetic characters as well as some excellent horror, so if you’re a fan of slow burns and you’re looking for something new to watch, I’d highly recommend that you check this one out.

The Innocents hits VOD and limited theaters on May 13.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today. He blogs at Embrace Your Fears.

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