Oct 272008
Authors: Marjorie Hamburger

This Halloween, will you be re-watching the many “Saw” flicks or perhaps the latest installment of “Final Destination?”

Might I entice you with something a bit classier for this Halloween season that will be sure to ignite your sense of dread and terror?

It is time to break away from the usual fright filled flicks of this century and embrace the old-school horror films that still succeed in scaring you out of your pants.

This Halloween season, I invite you to watch “The Innocents.”

This 1961 psychological thriller/horror directed by Jack Clayton is based on Henry James’ classic tale “The Turn of the Screw.”

Miss Giddens (Debrah Kerr) is a governess hired to care for two young children in a large mansion set in 19th century England.

The two children Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens) seem to be quite cordial and pleasant with no real faults.

One day, Miss Giddens receives a letter from Mile’s teacher saying he has been expelled due to violent behavior.

Miss Giddens assumes the teacher is lying based on Miles’ perfectly charming demeanor.

As the governess spends more and more time with the children in an almost abandoned mansion (save for the cooks, and maids, etc), the situation becomes queerer and queerer.

She learns about the odd deaths of the former governess and her lover.

After learning of these deaths, she begins to see and hear things.

The children act as though they can see and hear them too. Are they real, or are they in her mind?

“The Innocents” puts an unexpected twist on the usual horror story, making it a psychologist’s dream.

But is it just a psychological explanation, or is there some greater force in the mansion taking hold of the children?

This chilling uncertainty is astounding to experience. The artistic and stylistic elemets of this film enhance the suspenseful qualities of this film.

The film was shot in black and white, making significant features pop out. The themes often play out in objects, so the viewers can prepare for what’s to come.

The powerful use of dialogue sets the mood and haunts the listeners.

Two of the most blood curdling discourses comes from the mouths of each child.

Before the film begins, Flora is heard singing a child’s song.

This song is repeated throughout the movie when sung by Flora or when heard from her music box.

The other eerie discourse is when Miles recites a dark and disturbing poem that irrefutably relates to the man who had previously died in the house.

The simplicity of this film is one of its greatest features.

There are no special effects or brutal violence needed to create fear.

Hearing a crying woman is enough to form goosebumps.

The cold, merciless stare of a man can chill the blood. And simply the sound of the wind can be deafening.

This Halloween I invite you to step away from the cliché horror flicks of the 21st century and embrace this masterful film.

“The Innocents” is a quality thriller that allows for multiple interpretations. No matter what conclusions are made, this film is sure to generate a scare.

Staff writer Marjorie Hamburger can be reached at verve@collegian.com.


Top 10 halloween flicks

Whether you enjoy a horror, comedy or psychological thriller, these top 10 films are sure to entertain this Halloween season.

#1: Young Frankenstein (1974)

#2: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

#3: The Innocents (1961)

#4: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

#5: The Haunting (1963)

#6: Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)

#7: The Sixth Sense (1999)

#8: The Others (2001)

#9: Poltergeist (1982)

#10: The Blob (1958)

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