The Innocents follows four children who become friends during the bright Nordic summer holidays. Out of sight of the adults, they discover they have hidden powers. While exploring their newfound abilities in the nearby forests and playgrounds, their innocent play takes a dark turn and strange things begin to happen.

While numerous superhero franchises try (and succeed) to make big bucks at the box office, in comes The Innocents – an arthouse horror. Some elements might not be as original as they might seem, but Eskil Vogt‘s film nevertheless feels designed to please another type of audience than the fanboys who see their heroes on the big screen three times per year. Not saying this can’t build forth into one of those franchises, The Innocents has a satisfying, if not a tad bit underwhelming, conclusion.

The film is blessed with a steady pace that keeps you guessing at what might come next and how far Vogt is willing to go with his characters as the story unfolds. In the world of The Innocents, there are a group of children with telekinesis and telepathy who happen to meet in the same neighbourhood. These gifted kids are clearly only just discovering their powers, which makes for some unkind and even gruesome bullying. One of them gets overly excited showing off what he can do, (trigger warning!) by throwing a cat down a staircase. If this isn’t enough, he willingly starts torturing neighbours both physically as mentally.

While we get to know him a little bit better, we also notice each one of these kids are growing up in different family situations causing them to lash out/asking for attention in their own “little” ways. The young cast does a great job acting out a wide range of emotions, while trying to keep their innocence as alive as possible.

The strength of The Innocents is its relentless power to keep pushing things to the next level. There’s so much to explore, and while that’s the case, Vogt never forgets the type of movie he’s making while staying true to this slow burner’s atmosphere.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed May 19, 2022 (screener provided by Rialto Distribution) Rating: TBC. Running time: 117 min. 

PRODUCTION: A Rialto Distribution release of a Mer Film, Zentropa Sweden, Snowglobe, Bufo, Don’t Look Now, Logical Pictures, Zefyr Media Fund, YLE, DR, Norsk Filminstitutt, Det Danske Filminstitut, Finnish Film Foundation, SFI, Nordisk Film- & TV-Fond, Eurimages & Protagonist Pictures production, in co-production with Film i Väst. Producers: Maria Ekerhovd & Mark Lwoff. Executive producers: Dave Bishop, Celine Dornier, Axel Helgeland & Eric Tavitian.

CREW: Director/writer: Eskil Vogt. Editing: Jens Christian Fodstad. Cinematography: Sturla Brandth Grøvlen. Music: Pessi Levanto.

CAST: Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Sam Ashraf, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim.

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