Eskil Vogt’s The Innocents (De uskyldige) follows a group of children that discover they have been gifted with supernatural powers. Kids can be creepy enough in horror movies but the unpredictable savagery of your average kinder killer is no match for the telekinetic kids in this gripping Icelandic chiller.

Written and directed by Eskil Vogt, The Innocents stars an impressive cast of children including Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim, and Sam Ashraf. It’s rare to see an entire cast of child actors all delivering best-of-the-year level performances but I’ll be damned if these kids aren’t a little A+ ensemble. Rounding out the cast are their adult counterparts Ellen Dorrit Pedersen, Morten Svartveit, Kadra Yusuf, and Lisa Tønne.

 

The Innocents is schoolyard Scanners….

 

Surely there was a summer vacation in your past when something inside you changed. Maybe puberty fixed your gaze on a boy or a girl, or suddenly you were tall enough and strong enough to slam dunk a basketball. Whatever it was, there was a summer where you changed forever, and for the four children of The Innocents that change comes by way of telekinesis. Without any explanation, these four children can suddenly hear each other’s thoughts, move objects with their minds, and (after some practice) bend the will of other people to do their bidding.


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For Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum), her sister Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad), and their friend Aisha (Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim), it’s a chance to communicate on a deeper level. For Ben (Sam Ashraf), however, it’s an opportunity to balance the scales. He’s bullied on the playground, he’s a burden to his mother at home, and that abandonment has poisoned him. It’s not his fault he’s a bad egg but these powers have finally given him the ability to make people hurt the way he hurts. When he’s not torturing animals, he’s using his abilities to break the bones of his bullies…and worse. As Ben becomes more powerful and increasingly dangerous, it’s up to the girls to stop him before his hatred and resentment explodes in all directions like an atomic bomb of anger.

 

 

Movies where people can control stuff with their minds are hard to put on screen. It’s arguably a subgenre best suited for the written page because so much of what happens takes place inside the mind. It’s all a lot of fun when the main characters are exploring their powers, and influencing strangers to do things against their will, but the climactic showdown is rarely as engaging as you might expect it to be. Even celebrated classics like David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1978) have extended scenes of two characters staring at each other with pained grimaces as they psychically battle for supremacy.

That’s all a long-winded way of me saying, I’m not nuts about psychic fights. There’s just never enough to look at. Where The Innocents really excels, however, is in creating incredibly tense moments of quiet horror where dread creeps over you like a cold chill. Sam Ashraf’s Ben is as volatile and unpredictable as Micahel Rooker in Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer. The real terror of The Innocents lies in those unpredictable moments when the children are unaware of the danger they have stepped into. To the outside world, Ben is just a child, but he’s as dangerous as a hungry pet store snake that has slithered his way into the hamster display.

 

[filled with] incredibly tense moments of quiet horror where dread creeps over you like a cold chill.

 

Ben’s story is a tragic one but it’s peppered with grim moments and out-and-out horror where adults are sucked into his nightmare hellscape to kill against their will. The Innocents is schoolyard Scanners with an undercurrent of foreboding that the film really delivers on. It’s brilliantly photographed, incredibly well-acted, and gripping. A movie perfect for the child-free to freak out about, and for parents to let off a little stress steam. The story leans a little too close to superhero origin territory at times but if you’ve been asking for a little more macabre in your Marvel movies, your order’s up!

 

Eskil Vogt’s The Innocents, from IFC Midnight, hits select theatres and VOD May 13, 2022. Let us know what you think of this telekinetic terror over on TwitterRedditFacebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.