I owe my daughter a lot of thanks for introducing me to the world of YA fiction. I never thought of YA as being intense or riveting enough to hold my interest, but wow…after reading THE HUNGER GAMES series and a few other other titles, I am thoroughly impressed. This is the reason I jumped on the movie adaptation of INNOCENCE, a film based on a book of the same name by author Jane Mendelsohn. INNOCENCE is a gothic coming-of-age tale with a supernatural twist, and while the movie is not perfect, it is still thrilling and entertaining. Fans of YA films will want to give this one a look.
If you are not familiar with INNOCENCE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cinedigm:
Haunted by the death and dreams of her beloved mother in a Montauk surfing accident, 16-year-old Beckett and her father, novelist Miles Warner, move to Manhattan and attempt to piece together their shattered life. Now enrolled at the exclusive Hamilton preparatory school, her psychosis and hallucinations intensify with the dubious suicides of current and past students, as does her first love for Tobey Crawford. The discovery that her new school may be run by a coven of beautiful and seductive women who perpetuate their youth by drinking the blood of virgins becomes the ultimate challenge of Beckett and Tobey’s young lives.
If this film version of INNOCENCE follows the book pretty closely, I could see it as the jumping-off point for a series. The movie provides a lot of material that could be pieced together to make a trilogy, as I can see several plot lines that could evolve from the way the film ends. I won’t give any spoilers away, but let’s just say I was very satisfied with its conclusion.
INNOCENCE is shot well and has a fairly high production value. I particularly like the location chosen for the school. I don’t know where this place is (the Blu-ray is void of any Special Features, unfortunately), but I would love to visit it. The building appears very gothic in nature and the landscape on which it sits is very foreboding.
The acting is solid, with actress Sophie Curtis portraying the lead character. I’d swear I’ve seen her in something previous, however I don’t recall watching any of her prior films that are listed on her IMDB page. Still, she does a great job with this role, giving her ‘odd-girl-out’ character real life. Likewise, her co-stars Graham Phillips and Kelly Reilly do a fine job with their portrayals as well.
There’s not many special effects in INNOCENCE, but those we see are well done. I particularly like the funky eye-thing the ladies of the coven do before they drink the virgin’s blood. It’s not necessarily a ground-breaking effect, but it looks impressive nonetheless.
But although INNOCENCE is a fun film to watch, it does have some flaws. First and foremost is the running time. 90 minutes is not nearly enough time to tell this story. This should have been two hours at least. This extra time would allow more fleshing out of the secondary characters, many of whom cast no shadow of menace because we simply don’t know them. A longer film would have helped develop them and the storyline.
Also, some aspects of the story are reasons for concern. For instance, Beckett makes some interesting deductions that many normal people probably would not. I likened this to Sherlock Holmes Syndrome, where a character is almost superhuman compared to everyone else. This struck me as a negative, because it made the realism of the film drop a bit.
Still, INNOCENCE is a fun YA movie that is worth checking out. It makes a statement in a way, by telling Hollywood you don’t have to have a $180 million budget to make an entertaining adaptation of a book. This film will hit shelves tomorrow if you want to give it a look.