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The Innocents Explained – The Most Disturbing Movie You’ll Ever See

May 14, 2022

Norwegian horror film The Innocents, from IFC Midnight, is different from most horror films in that we focus almost entirely on children. There have been plenty of scary movies featuring villains. The Omen, The Bad Seed, Goodnight Mommy, Orphan and The Ring all come to mind. Where The Innocents differs is the complete normality that Eskil Vogt’s film captures. They look, dress and act exactly how you expect kids to act, until they don’t. Although children develop powers, it all seems natural, as if it could happen between children in your cul-de-sac or on the playground. There is an occasional cruelty that is introduced early that goes a long way in setting the tone. and creating emotional beats that benefit character arcs.

InnocentsCourtesy of IFC Minuit

Ida, her autistic sister Anna, and her parents move into a large apartment complex at The Innocents. Both are beautiful blonde girls, but Anna is nonverbal, and Ida often does things like pinch her hard or stick glass in her shoe to see how she’ll react. It’s shocking to see Ida hurt her sister with so little regard, but that’s not the worst thing you’ll see. Ida spends her days playing with Ben, who lives in the compound with his possibly abusive mother and is bullied by the older kids. At first, Ida is intrigued by Ben. However, he torments and ends up killing the neighbor cat in an early scene that is so nasty I almost turned off the movie. Ida is repelled by Ben but also interested in the same way children do when they blow up anthills or throw crickets into cobwebs.

Shortly after moving in, Ben and another little girl, Aisha, begin to demonstrate their powers. They play cute phone games, extend their powers of telepathy and move stones. Aisha and Anna like having someone to talk to, but Ben is another story. For a curious child with a psychopathic personality, this is a recipe for disaster. Sweet soul Aisha befriends Anna and Ida when the girls realize Aisha can telepathically communicate with her. Many of the more tender beats come from their interactions and subsequent changes in Anna’s relationship with her family. Aisha uses her powers for good, while Ben, who has known little beyond evil, chooses violence.

Ben’s anger and lust for power takes over over time. He develops his skills allowing him not only to move objects but also to control other people. Ben likes to inflict pain, but he becomes deadly when he feels that he is being laughed at. A stupid game spirals out of control and becomes dangerous when he tries to hurt Aisha and Ida. Anna, who is powerful on her own, intervenes and a rift forms in the group. Ben doesn’t like to be challenged. Here’s everything you need to know about the Innocents ending.

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The End of the Innocents

When Ben triggers a series of accidents at home, his mother is seriously injured and in pain on the kitchen floor. Instead of helping her, he lets her die and covers her with towels. This is the beginning of his end. He has no control over his impulses and he breaks down without anything attaching him to love and kindness. He takes control of a man to kill the older boy who had bullied him and forces Aisha’s mother to kill her while she is lost in a nightmare of his making. Fearing for their lives, Ida tries to kill Ben but fails.

Anna leaves the apartment while her mother is at the store and confronts Ben across a pond. The two powers clash, with Ben initially taking control. Ida, who has a broken leg, is slow to follow, but she discovers she has a latent power of her own and breaks her cast, allowing her to descend the stairs and join her sister. Many children on the spectrum struggle with human contact, and Anna is no different, but her connection with Aisha has allowed her to form bonds that she hadn’t been able to form before. Now that Ida also has abilities, they were able to bind their hands and double their power. The two sisters stared at Ben with determination and stopped his heart.

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Are there other children with powers?

After the ambulance arrives and Ida hugs her mother, Anna stops scribbling on her notepad and her hand stops like it did when Aisha merged with her earlier in the movie and they drew a shark. The indication is that Anna is communicating with someone else now. Is it Ida or one of the other kids in the complex? During the silent battle of wills between Ben and Anna, the babies and dogs are affected by something happening around them, and several children watch from their balconies. They seemed to know there was a war between Anna and Ben. We also sometimes hear in the film the fervent whispering of lonely children. Something happens to a lot of kids, and it seems like several of them are developing powers. Hopefully they have benevolent spirits to go along with their skills.

Ben, Aisha and Anna are more powerful when together. Anna and Ida can combine their abilities and use them against Ben. Ironically, it was Ben’s isolation and cruelty that made him vulnerable. At the same time, Anna, who had extreme difficulties with personal relationships and communication, overcame her challenges for the greater good. The old adage that we are stronger together rings true here.

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The vulnerability and perceived innocence of children is always a great starting point for horror movies. There’s a reason the creepy kids trope has lasted so long. Vogt’s The Innocents takes spooky kids to a whole new level. It shares many of the same bones as Brightburn or the Runaways but with a hard to watch realism. This quiet naughtiness reads more authentically than a child flying. This movie feels real, and that’s why it’s so horrible. Children like Ben, who are hopelessly neglected and bullied, can lash out in terrible ways. Actions have consequences, even if we do not always understand it when we are young. Most of us wouldn’t break a child’s leg because we don’t want to hurt anyone, even if they hurt us. There is a difference between self-defense and revenge or deadly curiosity. Ben never learned that and certainly wasn’t born with any empathy.

The film is long and painful. It’s just under two hours long and there’s very little gore, but it’s probably the most disturbing movie I’ve ever seen. I gasped, grimaced and had to close my eyes several times. The sound design, so effective, invaded my senses even when I tried to look away. I liked The Innocents? I am not sure. The child actors deliver believable and chilling performances, and the film has an impact. It certainly sticks with me, and I know it’s the kind of movie I want to talk about if for no other reason than I think I need to cut out the poison. You can stream it everywhere right now, but beware. You won’t be able to forget it.

Tracy Palm Tree

As the editor of Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the editor.

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