This post was inspired by (and warmly stolen from) Alex Withrow at the wonderful ‘And So It Begins’. Check out his takes here.
As we’re about to see- from the moment I hit play on The Innocents I knew it would creep up into my heart. Truthfully I’ve failed to really hunt down director Jack Clayton’s other work which is criminal considering this is the finest directed ghost story ever told- and I’d put that above ‘The Shining’ too.
There’s a subtle psyology that elevates Clayton’s tale beyond so many other similar films- but it’s his daring, innovative and fiendishly intoxicating creative risks that take it from top-tier spook to one of the finest films in what might be the cinema’s greatest decade so far.
Opening on ‘O Willow Waly’- sung with this gorgeous, haunted innocence by a young child. The film immediately reaches out and lets you know you aren’t safe even in the dark- and there’s something about the way the song starts before the studio logos and plays on through them. A lot of horror movies today try this kind of sound-based cold open, but its often too loud. The Innocence meets you on the same ground as the silence and dark of a cinema just after the curtains open: Barely above a whisper. And to cut in with all this before we see a logo and not give a fuck about them as we go by just burns this sleepwalk song right into nightmares.