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Eskil Vogt’s chilling, supernatural Scando-spin on arthouse horror explores what it means to be a gifted child through disturbing, uncanny and heedlessly violent means.
A strong contender for the genre film of 2021, The Innocents comes from the uber-talented Eskil Vogt, known for his scripting duties with Joachim Trier on Louder Than Bombs and this year’s Cannes favourite, The Worst Person in the World, following on from his directorial debut Blind. A deliberately paced, electrifying, atmospheric Norwegian nail-chewer, The Innocents percolates into one heady brew of nightmare fuel.
Moody and unpredictable with a robust original conceit and terrific child performances to work from, The Innocents draws us into a troublesome world where lack of parental oversight gives way to full-blown pre-pubescent anger. Set in a housing estate of enormous tower blocks, playgrounds and nearby forests, the film is presented through the lens of the titular innocents, a group of young children who spend most of their summer playing together away from any adult supervision. The casual indifference and lack of morality that many kids display early on soon plays a major role as we discover that there’s something very special about these kids...
We meet nine-year-old Ida as she moves into one of these tower blocks with the rest of her family, Mum, Dad and an older autistic sister Anna, whom she treats with nonchalant cruelty. The long, aimless summer holiday sees Ida making friends with the very young Aisha and local boy Ben who, along with a cruel streak, reveals he can telekinetically move objects. It isn’t too long before casual apathy turns nasty as this mini-tribe of youngsters turn on each other. — AT
“The Innocents… questions the nature of good and evil, pondering whether it is inherited, the work of the devil or something learned. Vogt's ambiguous narrative makes all of these conclusions possible.” — Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa