Young adult novels have led to some of the bigger movies in recent history, with the HUNGER GAMES and TWILIGHT franchises, not to mention THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. It isn’t surprising then that independent studios are tapping into this field, and on March 3rd, we get just such an outing by Cinedigm with the adaptation of INNOCENCE.
Following the death of her mother, Beckett and her father move to Manhattan, where she’s enrolled in a private all girls school, Hamilton Prep. Things seem decent at first, despite a few “mean girls” icing out our protagonist. Beckett notices one particular girl seeming a little troubled, and that is made all the more evident after she notices her cutting herself, eventually leading to the other girl’s suicide. Beside this, Beckett is taken back by the women in charge of the school, all ethereal in beauty and all very concerned about her well being.
When her school nurse takes an interest in her father, and she begins seeing visions of dead girls from the school, Beckett decides to figure out what’s really going down at Hamilton Prep. What she uncovers is a coterie of parasites feeding off the student body in an almost vampiric nature.
INNOCENCE definitely sets out to show itself as a YA adaptation, sadly aping both the lighting schemes and soundtrack style from the TWILIGHT films. But while it does its best to mimic those films, I thought it did a better job of telling a coherent story. YA fiction is geared as a gateway for young people to work their way into more mature fiction, and has been effective in doing so for many, my own teenage daughter being one of them. Hell, I even cut my teeth on SE Hinton novels before digging into broader fare when I was younger. And INNOCENCE fares well as a gateway into horror and thriller movies.
While tapping into tropes from horror and thriller films, INNOCENCE doesn’t force feed them to you, opting instead for a more subtle touch. While someone from the horror community could point out each one, or foresee the conclusion, I think it allows for a younger audience to prepare themselves for more mature fare. I think that this could lead one into Argento’s PHENOMENA or even eventually SUSPIRIA.
Sophie Curtis, the young actress playing Beckett, has a lot on her plate, as she’s on screen for almost the entirety of the film. This is a big task for someone that’s mostly had smaller roles, but I think that she pulled it off for the most part. Her vibe would have fit well as Bella from the TWILIGHT series, so the parallels they draw in the film making fits. And she does a great job of straddling that line of being young without being annoying that so many teen actors struggle with.
The adult cast, led by the school nurse, played by Kelly Reilly (EDEN LAKE, FLIGHT) does a good job as well. The women at Hamilton handle the balance of being a caring adult with just the right amount of menace. And Linus Roache (CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK) is wonderful as Beckett’s father, both as a grieving widower and a caring father.
While not perfect, INNOCENCE is a strong outing, and deserves attention by fans of YA adaptations. It is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital HD on March 3rd, 2015.