Movie Review: “Innocence” Is Lackluster And Overly Repetitious


Review by James McDonald

A young woman discovers her elite Manhattan preparatory school harbors a dark secret.

“Innocence” is a film that yearns to coalesce into the ranks of far-superior movies regarding satanic cults like “Rosemary’s Baby”, “The Beyond” and “The Wicker Man”. The only problem is, it’s completely and utterly boring and devoid of any real scares, thrills or character development. The fact that it’s also rated PG-13 doesn’t help when an R rated movie allows you so much more scope and freedom, especially when you’re dealing with demons and satanic rituals. Imagine setting out to remake “Friday the 13th” or “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and then announcing to the world that it’s going to be rated PG-13. Not a very bright move.

Our story begins with our heroine Beckett (Sophie Curtis) and her mother Lena (Kelly Bensimon), both avid surfers who are in the water waiting for the perfect wave. As one approaches, it submerges Lena and she succumbs to an aneurysm and dies. Several months later, Beckett and her dad Miles (Linus Roache) move away from their seaside home and relocate to Manhattan where Miles hopes the lights and the noise of the big city will keep her distracted while he enrolls her in a new boarding school. While there, she is made very welcome by the staff and students, almost too welcome and gradually, she begins to notice strange goings on.

After one seemingly perfect and happy girl commits suicide right in front of her, she does some research on the old building and discovers that the women who run and operate the school, are actually demons who feed on the blood of young virgins. Not the most original story but enough of an outline that in the hands of a more capable director, the film could have been so much better. As it stands, director Hilary Brougher’s attempt at tension is to crank up the volume every time Beckett looks into a mirror and we see the obligatory ghost or shadow and when she turns around, it’s completely gone. This happens repeatedly until it wears out its welcome and even then, it happens some more, just in case we missed it the first few times.

Sophie Curtis as the film’s heroine, has absolutely no personality whatsoever and is totally incapable of actually emoting. She constantly looks perplexed the whole time, even before she is aware that anything strange is going on so either she wasn’t allowed to read the script in advance or her character was psychic and she could see everything that was going to happen to her and just how bad the movie would eventually become. The one saving grace was Linus Roache who plays her father and who has made a name for himself as a wonderful character actor in movies such as “The Chronicles of Riddick”, as Bruce Wayne’s father in “Batman Begins” and on the TV shows “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Vikings”.

He is a very expressive and impassioned actor who is watchable in just about anything. Even this movie. Sadly though, he alone cannot save this muddled affair. Other than Mr. Roache, the only other aspect of the movie worth mentioning is the cinematography by David Rush Morrison. He gives the film the much-needed foreboding ambiance and subtle textures a movie of this ilk so desperately needs but because of the inability of the film’s director to build up any worthwhile tension, it all falls flat. I would normally suggest waiting for a film of this variety to come out on DVD or VOD but in good conscience, I cannot do that. Instead, rent whatever movie is sitting next to it because I guarantee you, whatever it is, it can’t be as bad as this.

In select theaters now including Houston.

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James McDonald
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