The Innocents (1961)


Jack Clayton’s 1961 film The Innocents bases the horror and mystery more in the mind than on the screen. Taken from the Henry James novel, The Turn of the Screw and adapted from the William Archibald play of the same name by Truman Capote, injecting more psychological elements into the script to provide an uneasier time for the viewer.

Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) can’t be sure about what is happening, and no one else can provide any support or is able to corroborate her stories of ghostly goings on or possessions. Both the child actors for Miles (Martin Stephens) and Flora (Pamela Franklin) are superb as the two children supposedly under the influence of the spirits of the incredibly grand house that they live in. Falling on the side of being more unnerving than scary, The Innocents is still a really well put together ghost story.

Placing a voiceover before and during the credits, alongside an eerie rendition of the song that is repeated throughout, and having a very eager or slightly desperate sounding Miss Giddens in the presence of the Uncle, makes it seems that the idea of an unstable/unreliable female voice is planted early and continues throughout the film. Add to this the little moments of the pleasant facade cracking from those who have been living in the house and you have got multiple elements all leading to an uncertain experience.

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