Review of Innocence by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky
The long-awaited release of Hilary Brougher’s third film Innocence is anticlimactic, telling the tired story of preparatory schoolgirl “Beckett Warner” (Sophie Curtis) and the elite book club on the prowl for her precious virgin blood.
After Beckett’s mother dies in a tragic surfing accident, her father “Miles” (Linus Roache) enrolls her in Hamilton Preparatory School for Girls. Although most people in the real world could care less about new students, the girls at Hamilton see Beckett as fresh meat, immediately pointing and snickering in slow motion while giving her looks of disdain. (Why? Because she’s new? Because she’s a virgin? How can they tell and why would they care?)
Beckett is introduced to Miles’ friend “Natalie” (Stephanie March) and her cute son “Tobey,” (Graham Phillips) along with the rest of the creeptastic book club. She’s also introduced “Pamela,” (Kelly Reilly) the touchy-feely school nurse who takes a liking to Beckett’s dad – and basically moves in with her and Miles within the week. Skateboarder Tobey and newfound friend “Jen” (Sarah Sutherland) keep Beckett from being completely isolated in her new environment. She smiles, laughs, and gets bellybutton piercings from gothic Jen – all normal things in her otherwise turbulent world.
As Beckett attempts to settle into her new life, she’s haunted by visions of her mother, a recently suicidal classmate, and slain Hamilton students from last century. In between her visions and skateboarding lessons from Tobey, she’s encouraged by Pamela and the school therapist to pop some pills “to help her sleep.” But Pamela and the other Stepford-like book club members are only after one thing: virgin blood, to maintain their youth, of course.
Sophie Curtis portrays Beckett as a quiet, disturbed teenager who looks like (and acts like) she has chronic insomnia. Her unreadable eyes glaze over as she wanders the historic halls and gardens of Hamilton. Aimless wandering and dead-eyed staring make Turner’s performance tiring after Act One. The only real standout performance comes from Kelly Reilly, who adds another interesting role to her already versatile filmography. From the moment Pamela comes on the screen, you immediately get a feeling that something’s not quite right. The believability in Reilly’s performance, from the way she nuzzles Beckett’s neck to her terrifying glares, gives the film just enough ambiguity to keep it from being completely predictable.
Other than Reilly’s frightening take on “Pamela,” everything else is mediocre. The low-budget film’s editing and typical horror-movie-blue tone try to make up for the lackluster screenplay. Although marketed as a thriller, there’s more gag-worthy scenery than actual thrills. “Virgin blood to maintain youth” is a common theme in horror movies and it seems all the more dated in the boring, amateurish Innocence.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (9/06/14)
Top Photo and Bottom Photo: Kelly Reilly as “Pamela” and Sophie Curtis as “Beckett.”
Technically, yes. Beckett has scenes her friend Jen as she deals with her alcoholic mother. She also has scenes with Pamela and her wicked, blood-drinking school therapist, discussing the death of Beckett’s classmate.