The Innocents (2022)

Eskil Vogt

Running Time: 117 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Sam Ashraf, Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Morten Svartveit, Kadra Yusuf, Lisa Tønne

For his second directorial feature, writer/director Eskil Vogt opens on a familiar scene of a little girl sleeping in a car. Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum) awakens to the bright summer scene outside, before reaching over to pinch the leg of her autistic sister, Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad). As Ida tries getting a reaction out of her older sibling, this scene accurately captures how the film can transform something familiar into something unsettling.

As their family move to a new home, Ida and Anna befriend two other children living in the same housing estate and discover they have mysterious powers. The children happily explore these abilities, although the innocent play takes a dangerous turn. Much like 2017's Thelma, Joachim Trier's film which Vogt co-wrote, The Innocents offers a fascinating alternative on superpowers from the highest-grossing films.

Vogt shows how great power doesn't always bring great responsibility, as such power can bring out the worst in people in this dark tale which takes brutal routes. A warning to any cat-lovers, this film includes one of the years most distressing scenes. What's key is how tension is effectively used in unbearable ways, leaving audiences on edge awaiting what's next, as shown in a standout football scene.

The scope of these powers are effectively captured across the runtime, as the fantastical nature is depicted well with minimalist ideas to combat not having a big-budget. Central to portraying them are the child actors, each doing terrific work in their roles, although the standout is the exemplary Sam Ashraf as the film's most terrifying character. The characterisation is lacking in some areas, although it's most egregious with Anna, who's more a neurodivergent plot device than a character in her own right. Despite this, what Vogt has crafted is a quietly unnerving story about the loss of innocence which is an effective advert for contraception.

The Innocents is available in cinemas and on Digital now