The Innocents (2021)
the innocents | eskil vogt | rakel lenora flottum | alva brynsmo ramstad | sam ashraf | telekinesis | drama | fantasy | mystery | thriller | norway | sweden | denmark | finland | france | untied kingdom | mina yasmin bremseth asheim | ellen dorrit petersen | kadra yusuf
Film: The Innocents (De uskyldige)
Director: Eskil Vogt
Writer: Eskil Vogt
Starring: Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad and Sam Ashraf
This is a movie that I believe got on to my radar due to it showing at film festivals. I feel like the Horrorcast talked about this one as well. If memory serves, a couple of the hosts have seen this. I did catch part of the trailer, but when I realized it was horror I stopped watching. I went to the Gateway Film Center to catch this one when it was showing. It is also one that I rewatched for my end of year list.
Synopsis: during the bright Nordic summer, a group of children reveal their dark and mysterious powers when the adults aren’t looking. Playtime takes a dangerous turn.
We start by getting to meet our main characters. There is Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum) and her sister Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad). The latter has a severe case of autism where she can no longer verbalize. She is almost in an odd state where her parents, played by Ellen Dorrit Petersen and Morten Svartveit, have trouble communicating with her. Ida resents her for the attention she needs. We see her pinch her sister as a form of revenge. There is still love there though that we see.
This family is moving to a new apartment for the father’s job. Ida wants the mother to take her and go on a vacation. She tells her daughter that they can’t take the time off with the dad’s new job. Ida didn’t mean for all to go. To make matters worse, it is summer so most of the families around here are gone as well.
That doesn’t mean everyone is though. Ida goes outside to play and meets Ben (Sam Ashraf). We learn through interactions with this mother, played by Lisa Tønne, that she is hard on him. He does show Ida that he has developed the ability to move things with his mind. It cannot weigh too much. He can alter its path when it is dropped before him.
These children become friends. Ida gets upset when her mother forces her to take Anna with her the next day. She leaves her on a tire swing and goes off with Ben. Together they have a heartbreaking scene when they do something horrible to another girl’s cat. This other girl is Aisha (Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim). She can hear Anna, even though this older girl cannot speak. Her homelife isn’t great in a different way. Her mother is Kadra Yusuf and she is dealing with the depression of losing her partner who was Aisha’s father.
This group bonds over realizing that they have telepathic powers, at least some do. Aisha can hear Anna’s thoughts. Ben realizes that he can read Aisha’s thoughts and even can use this power to read Anna’s through this other girl. He also learns that he has other abilities. He uses it to punish a teen that bullies him and even his own mother. Ben’s power grows and it becomes scarier to the point that the others must stop him before he turns on his friends.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introducing the characters. Where I want to start is something I saw while on the Internet Movie Database page. They said on there that this feels like an origin story for a superhero movie and I agree with that. That is what I thought while sitting in the theater watching this. It is done in a subtle way and makes it feel grounded despite these children having supernatural powers. I did like that element.
To get more into the meat of this movie though, I want to talk about Ida and Anna. Ida is a character that made me mad in the beginning. She feels resentment toward Anna since she needs so much of her parents’ attention. I get it though. I’ve been in a similar situation. When my sister was born, I developed a shutter for a short time. I still have some of the effects of that. What I don’t like is her hurting Anna through pinching. Since I haven’t been in Ida’s shoes, I shouldn’t judge. I did think that Fløttum does a great job at getting a reaction out of me. Anna is interesting as well. She is the one of these two that has powers from the start. I like this idea. Her affliction makes it tough, but it almost seems like her brain developed in a different way. It works for me. I also think that Ramstad does a great job at her portrayal of this character as well. Spoiler here, the acting is good despite mostly being children to be honest.
Where I want to go next then would be Ben. I hated this kid. His mother is struggling and she takes it out on him. He is a psychopath from it. We see him hurt a cat. He doesn’t take it well when he is bullied. That is probably another part of his issues. We see though that he gets angry with Ida and Aisha for messing with him, even if it is lighthearted. There are times where I’ve gotten annoyed when my friends keep on it for too long. They are lightly messing with him and he gets angry. Ashraf was good in this role. He does well at showing the hurt when he is home and then being the evil kid as the movie progresses. It is well done. It also had my anxiety going up with seeing how things play out as he grows his power. This is where it starts to seem like an origin story for a supervillain.
That concept is where I’m going next. This movie is dealing with the idea of getting too powerful too quickly, something akin to Akira or Anakin in Star Wars. We have a character like Ben who is broken. He has a rough homelife and probably also dealing with bullying. He knows he has a bit of telekinesis, but when he meets Anna, he realizes that he is more powerful than that. He discovers the ability to control others and the powers we saw earlier are much stronger. What I like though is his counterpart of Anna. We learn that she is the most powerful one here, but due to her condition, she is unassuming. I did enjoy how things play out there.
I don’t think there is anything else that I wanted to delve into for the story and I’ve gone over most of the acting. There are some of the side characters that I want to discuss still. I did like Asheim and the struggles with her mother. She knows her mother is down. Aisha does what she can to cheer her up, but she needs time. She is grieving still. I’d say that Peterson, Svartveit, Yusuf and Tønne were all solid as the parents. They are distinct enough characters. Their personalities also have effects on how they’re child act as well. It is also interesting that the children don’t share information with them. They don’t believe them when they do and that feels real. The rest of the cast help to round this out and push our children to where they end up for me.
Then the last things to go into would be the filmmaking aspects. I think that the cinematography here is great. They do some interesting shots. It looks amazing. There is something they will do with shadows and changing how a scene looks when Ben is influencing them. I did like showing this. They do well in editing it with seeing what the truth is as well for the duality. The effects were good too. There is practical ones and a bit of CGI. I think how they handle both works well. It also seems like they hid things when needed, which helps. Other than that, I thought the soundtrack was good to help build the atmosphere that the movie needed as well.
In conclusion, this was a movie that looked good, but I was still leery about it. I’m glad that I watched it though. We have a group of children that are different, while also having things in common. I’d say that the acting from them is good. The rest of the cast are solid in support. We don’t get a lot of effects, which you would expect, but what we do get are good. I had no issues there. Other than that, the rest of the filmmaking aspects are well done, especially the cinematography. I think that this is above average movie that is just below being good. Having now revisited this, it has come up slightly for me. I now think this is a good movie.
My Rating: 8 out of 10