“The Turning” (Universal)

Mackenzie Davis and Brooklynn Prince star in a scene from the movie "The Turning." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Universal)

By Catholic News Service

Director Floria Sigismondi’s loose, updated adaptation of Henry James’ classic 1898 novella-length horror story “The Turn of the Screw” provides the occasional jolt on the way to a thoroughly incoherent ending.

A newly hired live-in nanny (Mackenzie Davis) at an isolated country mansion presided over by an austere housekeeper (Barbara Marten) is gradually unnerved by the sinister behavior of her initially endearing young charge (Brooklynn Prince) and of the girl’s sullen, aggressive older brother (Finn Wolfhard). Is the manor haunted? Is the lad possessed? Or is the protagonist going mad?

While James keeps readers on a knife edge with alternative possibilities, screenwriters (and brothers) Chad and Carey W. Hayes can’t seem to decide what direction their script should adopt, so they wind up veering all over the place. Since one of the possible ghosts had a taste for sadistic sex and a character meets a briefly glimpsed bloody death, their film is strictly for grown-ups.

Some violence with momentary gore, occult and mature themes, including aberrant sexuality, an image of rear nudity, partial upper nudity, at least one profanity and a milder oath, a single rough and a couple of crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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