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as high as horror rose in some instances in 2020, it hit some real lows as well. the lowest of those points came at the very start of the year with the turning. this 1990s-set film is actually one of two 2020 adaptations of the turn of the screw, the other being the netflix series, and the gulf between the two could hardly be any wider. the film has a solid pedigree, coming from director floria sigismondi (the runaways) and the hayes brothers, who also wrote the conjuring and its sequel. but while sigismondi is able to add some style to the proceedings, she still has to work with a painfully bad script that is lifeless even before it jumps off a cliff in that way that few other films ever do.
the turning follows the same general beats as james' story, but everything about it just feels off -- and not in a good, unnerving way that would befit a horror film. mackenzie davis is lost in the lead role of the newly-hired governess taking care of two children, miles and flora, in the wake of their mother's disappearance. and in the roles of the children, finn wolfhard and brooklynn prince are intolerable. their performances fit the characters they've been given, but those characters are truly the worst whether its miles being a creeper and sexual harasser or flora throwing constant fits. sigismondi guides the film with an meandering pace that makes its 93 minutes feel like two hours and a subplot involving the unwell mother of davis' character doesn't try to do anything until it all goes wrong.
and my, how it goes wrong. the final act is just a disaster on every level to a point we haven't seen since the devil inside ended in 2012 with an advertisement for a website if you wanted to know how it ended. everything about this end is infuriating, undoing any remote goodwill that the previous 80 minutes or so might have managed to scrape together. everything about the turning is bad, but it's the final minutes that actively push it off the ledge and sends it screaming to the bottom of 2020's horror pile.
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