In Innocents, the film for Eskil Voget’s second student, the children reign supreme.
The kids, their laws and their hormones are the ones driving things around here, starting with a group of weak, open-eyed bastards who conjure up powers like X-Men on training wheels.
These powers remain largely on the fringes of this horror film, although it is alluded to in the eyes of an anxious parent or a glass cover somehow lands on one side. The brutalist apartments look down on the pastoral playground where these events take place; is a modern example of how children feel invincible until they face real life problems.
The film begins with a family moving into an apartment with their two children, the youngest of whom, Ida (Rakel Flottum), is our protagonist. She is curious about how only children can be, although her curiosity leads to problems when she pinches her sister, she pours the glass into someone’s shoes and leaves a cat on a 100-foot ladder. Cat lovers beware: this does not end well for kittens.
With most locals on summer vacation, does Ida do her Evil Girl routine before befriending outlaw Ben (Sam Ashraf), who appears to have bruises on her chest and telekinetic powers, or is she doing a prank? It doesn’t look like a prank when she breaks a branch in half just by looking at it, nor does it look like a prank when another girl, Aisha (Mina Ashiem), proves she can communicate with Idea’s non-verbal sister.
A connection is formed, but not between those you believe. Ida now wants to spend time with her sister, who is starting to say more words and show more emotion than before. There is a wonderful relationship between them, and anyone can relate to their brothers. Ida was embarrassed by Anna (Alva Ramstad), but now she stepped in front of a moving vehicle – or a power-hungry Ben – to keep her safe. Ben is threatened by Anna’s telekinetic powers, which leads to a series of deaths and the eventual realization that the actions have consequences.
Fans of genre cinema, including Voget’s work with Joachim Trier or the midnight horror mark for which the movie distributor is known, one might expect something more intense from The Innocents, which is largely a quiet family drama. It’s a different register than your usual superhero movie – X-Men, that’s not it – but it’s always atmospheric, permeating the city with a gentle yet strange unease.
A sense of foreboding hangs over the procedure, the score ground with an industrial intonation, humming over the lush forest and its sun-drenched secrets. But fundamentally, The Inocents is a parable, with darker fairy tale elements; references abound in this film, either in Peter Pan or Lord of the Flies, two stories about children who gain strength but lose control.
The film is more about lessons and, until it ends and the training wheels come off, something even more intense than the power of force or telekinesis – nothing can surpass the power of love.