Norwegian screenwriter Eskil Vogt, a regular collaborator of Joachim Trier (Thelma) directs in his second feature film a children’s cast capable of making anyone’s blood run cold. In The Innocents, four children, three of them with telekinetic and telepathic powers, spend their holidays in a lonely residential complex that the neighbors have abandoned for the summer. Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum) has just moved in with her parents and autistic sister Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad) and befriends Ben (Sam Ashraf), while a relationship of great closeness and understanding develops between her and sweet little Aisha (Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim). The use of buildings, staircases, the forest or the playground plays an essential dramatic role in turning the innocent or everyday into the disturbing and threatening.
Vogt shamelessly displays diabolical violence, while at the same time highlighting the powerlessness of the parents, their inability to meet their children’s educational and emotional needs, and also their own limitations. One of the families consists of a father and a mother, but the other two are single-parent families, with mothers for whom parenting is not a bed of roses but a painful task that can end their own lives.
As the director himself declares: I don’t believe in the cliché of the angelic child. We come into the world without a moral code, without empathy, a bit like narcissistic sociopaths, and you have to learn the codes of socialisation as you grow up.