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The Innocents review

Alongside The Haunting , Jack Clayton’s 1961 adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn Of The Screw is the pinnacle of corner-of-the-screen scares.

Deborah Kerr quivers with barely suppressed panic as a governess caring for two angelic siblings. Her wobbly poise prompts the key question: are the kids haunted, or is it all in her mind? (The ‘projecting’ theory is subtly backed up the reflective surfaces on show).

DoP Freddie Francis’ slyly blurred CinemaScope images, daringly suggestive scripting (by Truman Capote and William Archibald) and a supple sound mix work to immerse our imaginations in ambiguity. The heart-stopping climax offers no answers: just the lingering unease of uncertainty.

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