The Innocents: Chilling film that tests boundaries of good and evil

Writer-director Eskil Vogt takes us to a tower block complex near Oslo where no one hangs washing from their balcony and families relax by a shockingly clean artificial beach and lake. Parents are happy to leave their kids to play out all day in the Nordic sun, presumably due to a low crime rate. But something dark is stirring among the young folk in this well-ordered corner of Europe.

Nine-year old Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum) has moved here with her parents (Ellen Dorrit Pedersen and Morten Svartveit) and autistic 11-year-old sister Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad) who lost the power of speech at the age of four.

Jealous of the attention her big sister gets from her parents, Ida is prone to pinching Anna’s thigh when they aren’t looking. Then she meets another kid with a secret. Neglected Ben (Sam Ashraf) can move objects with his mind. When he demonstrates his X-Men-like ability by firing stones against a tree, Ida is more delighted than surprised.

But telekinesis isn’t the only odd thing about this strange lad. His high propensity for cruelty leads him to clash with both Ida and Aisha (Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim), a kind little girl who develops a psychic link with Anna.

If this was a Hollywood movie, there would be rumours of curses and desecrated Indian graveyards. But what makes this film so creepy is the way we experience the unexplained from the point of view of these seemingly innocent kids.

As we watch them test the boundaries between good and evil, their childish giggles start to sound rather sinister, and that spotless Nordic estate feels spookier than the dustiest gothic mansion.