Last night I watched “Innocence”, a 2013 American horror drama film, directed by Hilary Brougher (“Stephanie Daley”).
The movie opens with Beckett Warner (Sophie Curtis – “Arbitrage”) witnessing her mother’s death, from an aneurysm, whilst out surfing off Montauk, Long Island. Four months later, for a fresh start, she and her father, Miles, leave their home to move to a new apartment in Manhattan, which has been found for them by a family friend, Natalie Crawford (Stephanie March – “Law & Order : Special Victims Unit”).
Miles (Linus Roache – “Vikings”, “Non-Stop”), a successful author, has enrolled Beckett into an exclusive prep school, Hamilton, run by headteacher Moira Neal (Liya Kebede “The Best Offer”). Still feeling traumatised by her mother’s death, Beckett hears strange voices and experiences hallucinations, both at home and at school.
On Beckett’s first day at school, whilst being introduced to members of the school’s book club – which includes Natalie – further visions lead her to visit school nurse Pamela Hamilton (Kelly Reilly – “Flight”, “Set Fire To The Stars”), whose family started the school over a century previously.
The suicide of a fellow pupil shakes Beckett further, so Pamela pays her a home visit and arranges to refer her to the school’s psychiatrist, Dr. Vera Kent (Sarita Choudhury – “Homeland”).
Beckett is put on medication but still feels that things are amiss. The discovery of an old newspaper report about two other Hamilton students’ deaths add to her unease. On top of this, Pamela’s ever more regular presence at home as she becomes increasingly involved with Miles leaves Beckett feeling increasingly isolated.
With her only friend at school, Jen Dunham (Sarah Sutherland – “Beneath The Harvest Sky”) and a boy she starts a tentative romance with – Natalie’s son Tobey (Graham Phillips – “The Good Wife”) – seemingly the only ones on her side, Beckett begins to dig a little deeper into Pamela and what is going on at the school.
Why are Pamela, Natalie and Dr. Kent so keen for Jen and Beckett to retain their virginity? What’s wrong with Jen’s mother? How is the mythological Lamia connected to the book club? What is really going on at Hamilton?
The movie was written by Hilary Brougher and Tristine Skyler (“Book Of Shadows : Blair Witch 2”) . The story having been adapted from the Jane Mendelsohn novel, also titled “Innocence”, which was published in 2000.
Entertaining without being great, there was plenty of potential here. The performances were solid enough, with only Kelly Reilly really showing any sparkle, I thought. Ultimately, I felt that this film wasn’t sure if it wanted to be another “Twilight”, a study on themes of loss, or a good old fashioned occult thriller…