This week’s Friday Night Horror was brought to us by Henry James, although I didn’t realise that at the time. I’ve recently been researching lists of horror movies to build up a suitable selection box for Friday nights, and a 1961 movie called The Innocents–which I’d never heard of before–turned up more than once. I’m a big fan of black and white, 1960s horror (The Haunting is one of my favourite films) so I was definitely up for this one.
It’s a slow burner, but the hint of things not being quite right is there virtually from the start. An unsettling air of mystery is expertly layered on and builds right through to the disturbing conclusion. One of the things I like most about movies made in this period is that they bring a mix of modern and historical that works so well when a properly gothic atmosphere is needed. It may be a period piece, but it arrived at a time when cinema was just about to break out of the staid format it had rested in for the last few decades. Arriving roughly alongside a time when sexual liberation was also in the air also for some scenes that would be challenging now, but seem downright incredible that they made it to the screen over 50 years ago.
The Innocents is not necessarily a film I’ll be rushing to watch again–I want to savour that first viewing–but it’s proven to be something almost unique in our Friday Horror journey and I’m still surprised that it had never crossed my radar before now.