Movies about children with hidden powers are not a new thing, but in this Norwegian psychological drama with a terrific sound design, writer-director Vogt has created an unsettling portrait of childhood as the thin line between good and evil is explored.
Cast: Rakel Lenora Flottum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Sam Ashraf, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim, Ellen Dorrit Petersen
Plot: During the bright Nordic summer, a group of children reveal their dark and mysterious powers when the adults aren’t looking.
Awards: Nom. for Un Certain Regard Award (Cannes)
International Sales: Protagonist Pictures
Subject Matter: Moderate – Children; Supernatural Powers; Bullying; Outsiders
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Viewed: In Theatres
If you are into slow-burn psychological dramas with elements of horror, The Innocents could be right up your alley.
Competed at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard category, The Innocents is the sophomore feature by the Oscar-nominated Norwegian filmmaker Eskil Vogt, best known for his screenwriting collabs with Joachim Trier, including their latest critical hit, The Worst Person in the World (2021).
Movies about children with hidden powers are not a new thing, but in The Innocents, Vogt has somewhat made it interesting enough to last the course despite its deliberate pacing.
Strong, compelling performances by the young actors help greatly as a little girl named Ida discovers that a couple of neighbourhood acquaintances with different skin colour from her possess powers beyond her grasp. Moreover, she has an autistic sister, Anna, who seems to be able to communicate psychically with one of them.
“I’m talking to someone who isn’t here.”
Another aspect that works in the film’s favour is its terrific sound design, as Vogt creates a haunting atmosphere matched only by the unsettling ambience of the neighbourhood.
The white, minimalist façade of the apartment building where these younglings live dysfunctionally with their parents projects a cold, mysterious aura—perhaps it’s a repository for the multi-ethnic outsiders of society?
The Innocents can be a disturbing portrait of childhood, particularly through the theme of bullying, exploring the thin line between good and evil, but such is Vogt’s sharp focus on the perspectives of these children that you can’t help but wish that things will turn out okay for them.