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THE INNOCENTS / DE USKYLDIGE (2021, NOR) Movie review, plot, trailer

This creepy, deeply disturbing combination of thriller, drama, horror and fantasy is only the second film directed by Norwegian Eskil Vogt. But for many years he was a screenwriter for the much better known Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier and together they wrote all of Trier’s films such as “Oslo, August 31st”, “Thelma” and “The Worst Person in the World”. Vogt thus presented himself in Cannes in 2021 with two works – “The Worst Person in the World” is one of the most praised and awarded films of the year, and “The Innocents” or “De uskydige” is one of the scariest and most uncomfortable films of the year. During a typical Nordic summer, while adults are not watching, a group of children will unravel their mysterious powers, and their play could have extremely dangerous consequences.

This is the short description of this film on IMDB, and this dark, initially subtle and slow-burning story is typically harmless, with only a hint of something extremely evil. One family moved to a residential complex near the forest during the summer. The older daughter Anna is autistic, and her condition has a particularly mysterious effect on her younger sister, nine-year-old Ida, who seems to have a special power because of her condition. She still can’t quite figure out what it is and why Anna doesn’t react to stimuli. She pinches her skin, puts glass in her shoes thinking she doesn’t feel pain at all and that’s her superpower. They spend most of their time together and the younger sister takes care of the older one, and next door Ida will meet the mysterious and lonely boy Ben.

Soon they will become friends, but very soon it will become clear to us that there is something fundamentally bad, evil, corrupt in this boy. They will start killing worms, trampling ants, then it will be the cats’ turn, and it is easy to guess what comes after cats when it comes to such young sociopaths. All the more so because Ben is not a classic little sociopath, but he also seems to have some powers, and there is a fourth part of this unusual group, the girl Aisha. When they realize that they can communicate with each other and control things with their thoughts through telekinesis or something, their game seems to start turning into a struggle between good and evil. We have seen in movies before that a lot of bad things can happen when children realize that they have some power, and it is clear that the situation will be completely out of control.

Of course, it won’t happen the way it usually happens in Hollywood movies, but somehow sensually, warningly, creepyly, pleasantly. “The Innocents” will turn into a dark psychological drama, a horror fantasy full of symbolism in which character characterization is much more terrifying than supernatural elements and how each of them reacts to a situation when they realize what is happening. Who and how will use their abilities to do evil, and who to try to prevent the same evil. It is a film that creates a feeling of discomfort in the viewer from beginning to end, haunts him and wonders who is innocent, in what way and from what. Why and how it all happens, and it seems to me that it’s all also a dark allegory about how parents sometimes don’t know what’s going on with their children, how they think and what’s in their heads. 


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