THE INNOCENTS is a Norwegian psychological horror movie from IFC with supernatural elements. The main cast features children so it’s cruel in a certain way. This is a movie that makes an impression but it also demands a lot from its audience. Read our full The Innocents movie review here!
THE INNOCENTS is a psychological horror movie from Norway. There are both mystery and supernatural elements to this story so it’s not just plain evil. This is about a group of children living in the same apartment building and spending their Summer together. Think Stand by Me which goes on for a longer period of time and with a much darker and violent streak.
Oh yeah, and the main cast members are not even teens yet. They are innocent young children who can sometimes be little devils whenever they feel like it – and think they can get away with it. This includes animal abuse which I really do not enjoy watching in movies or series in any way, shape, or form. So, yeah, I was truly challenged by that.
Continue reading our The Innocents movie review below.
A fantastic young cast
Kids in horror movies are amazing when they work. If they don’t it can ruin most of a movie, but when they nail it there’s nothing quite like it. That combination of innocence and pure evil is simply terrifying. In The Innocents, we get truly amazing child actors.
The child we follow in The Innocents is the young Ida, who is portrayed by Rakel Lenora Fløttum. She’s the daughter of actor Ellen Dorrit Petersen (Thelma), and she also plays her mother in this movie. For the record, the father of young actor Rakel Lenora Fløttum is the amazing composer, Ola Fløttum, who wrote the brilliant score for Thelma.
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The young Ida has a sister with autism. Her name is Anna and most of their parents’ attention does go to her. So much so that Ida is quite cruel towards Anna at times. It’s very uncomfortable to watch at first, but this movie features their joint journey, so hang on through those painful moments. Their relations in The Innocents do evolve in a surprisingly positive way ultimately.
Anna herself is portrayed amazingly by actor Alva Brynsmo Ramstad.
The group of kids we follow over this one summer consists of four children. The final two kids that round out the group are Aisha and Ben (or Benjamin). Aisha is the kindest young soul and is simply full of love and understanding. She’s portrayed by Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim who leaves a lasting impression. Finally, there’s Ben who is played with impressive intensity by Sam Ashraf.
Both Ben and Aisha have abilities that come across as more powerful when they’re together. And once the group is brought together, it turns out that Anna also has some surprising (and powerful) abilities. It should also be noted that while Ida and Anna come from a happy and solid family, both Ben and Aisha live with their single mothers who battle their own issues. No spoilers here in that regard.
Animal abuse in movies
There is no getting around the fact that animal abuse does play quite a big part at the beginning of The Innocents. I was not aware that this would happen, since I avoided reading about the movie to not have it spoiled. That means I was caught off guard and I can understand – having now read up on it – that many people decided to walk out or switch off the movie when this happened.
I can definitely understand why, but since I am familiar with this filmmaker, I decided to hang on.
Still, I want to mention it to warn others, so they won’t be caught off guard. Also, I still loathe that animal abuse is a go-to element for shock effects. Then again, it is well-known (and documented) that many serial killers – and other psychopaths – begin their paths of violence with animal abuse.
I just wish it wasn’t quite as visually shown on screen. Or actually, that it wasn’t a thing utilized in film at all. And yes, of course, we’re simply dealing with a very talented cat actor (in combination with gifted child actors), which makes it feel too real for comfort. Actually, many elements in this movie feel too real for comfort but the supernatural element does help a bit in that regard.
It just comes after the animal abuse, so it didn’t help in those scenes.
Watch The Innocents in theaters, On Demand, and on Shudder!
The Innocents was directed by Norwegian director Eskil Vogt. He previously co-wrote the Joachim Trier movie Thelma (2017) which I absolutely adore. This new 2021 movie is only his second feature film as a director. His feature film debut was Blind from 2014 and it also had Ellen Dorrit Petersen in the cast.
There is no doubt in my mind that The Innocents will not be for everyone. On the other hand, there also can’t be much doubt that this movie is a visual powerhouse of a movie. One that leaves a strong impression and sticks with you. Sure, it is very much a slow-burn experience sometimes. Maybe even too slow at times.
However, I found it fascinating to watch all the layers peel back. Ultimately leaving us in a situation where we, as viewers, could only agree with the characters in the one possible outcome.
I will always have a huge problem with animal abuse being shown for shock effect. It simply does not create any constructive reaction in me. In fact, I may have said (as in, I definitely did) “It’s getting a minus 2 out of 5!” right after the animal abuse scene came up early on. Having said that, I am also recognizing that the movie as a whole is a remarkable and powerful story.
If you enjoy movies such as the earlier mentioned Thelma (2017), then The Innocents should also be for you. For me, personally, it doesn’t quite reach the same heights, but in terms of genre, style, and storytelling, it can handle the comparison quite nicely.
THE INNOCENTS will be out in theaters and On Demand from May 13, 2022. From August 18, 2022, it will also be out on Shudder.
Director: Eskil Vogt
Writer: Eskil Vogt
Cast: Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim, Sam Ashraf, Ellen Dorrit Pedersen, Morten Svartveit, Kadra Yusuf, Lisa Tønne
During the bright Nordic summer, a group of children reveal mysterious powers. But what starts out innocent soon takes a dark and violent turn in this gripping supernatural thriller.