Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Sam Ashraf and Alva Brynsmo Ramstad
The Innocents is an enthralling Norwegian supernatural thriller.
During the summer holidays, a group of children manifest dangerous paranormal powers.
The Innocents is a deeply humanistic thriller, drawing wonder and fun from the main characters’ self-discovery and squirmingly disturbing horror from broken homes, childhood angst and undeveloped empathy.
The pacing is slow and measured, immersing us in the children’s lives, and the tone shifts smoothly from exploration and play to terror and brutality.
Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum) and Ben (Sam Ashraf), who can move objects with his mind, are initially presented as destructive yet harmless rascals, but Ben’s sadism generates strong suspense as his anger, confusion and psychic abilities build.
The final act depicts an intense duel of minds more gripping than most superhero movies. The Innocents also has a gratifying arc of Ida bonding with and supporting her non-verbal autistic (and telepathic) sister Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad).
The Innocents features remarkable performances from its young stars, who stand out amid the simple camerawork and minimal effects and music.
Fløttum is a compelling anchor as a shrewd, powerless girl navigating her friends’ powers. Ramstad plays Anna with pathos and subtle expressiveness without using disability stereotypes.
Ashraf is downright scary as Ben, and Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim radiates authority as Aisha, who is psychically linked to Anna.
Content warning: this is the second film in as many weeks with an upsetting scene involving a cat.
With shades of a Nordic (and slightly more optimistic) Carrie, The Innocents is an outstanding and disquieting character-driven thriller, and is playing in select Victorian cinemas.
– Seth Lukas Hynes