A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Innocence is a teen horror/thriller based on a 2001 young adult novel by author Jane Mendelsohn. The movie focuses on a private all-girls school where students have mysteriously met their deaths. A mother dies accidentally, and two teen girls die: One jumps off the roof, and one is captured and killed in a bloody manner (her dead body is shown covered in plastic). There are also some freaky sequences of ritualistic bloodletting and virgin sacrifice, as well as occasional strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch") and one lovemaking scene (no nudity involved). Since the book wasn't a huge best-seller like many other popular YA adaptations, there isn't a big built-in fanbase, but the story should appeal to teens interested in supernatural and/or creepy tales.
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What's the story?
In INNOCENCE, 16-year-old Beckett Warner (Sophie Curtis) and her novelist father, Miles (Linus Roache), relocate to New York City after her mother dies in a surfing accident. With the help of Miles' well-connected editor, Natalie (Stephanie March), Beckett is enrolled at the tony all-girls private school Hamilton Prep, which boasts an impeccably gorgeous group of teachers, faculty, and alumnae -- like school nurse Pamela (Kelly Reilly) and psychologist Dr. Kent (Sarita Choudury). As Beckett befriends Jen (Sarah Sutherland), the daughter of one of those beautiful alumnae, and gets flirty with Natalie's son, Tobey (Graham Phillips), she starts to realize that there are creepy, murderous goings-on at the school.
Is it any good?
It's not really a spoiler to say this movie is a subpar fountain-of-youth horror flick about a coven of witches who keep their supple looks by drinking the blood of unblemished young virgins. The "virgin" part is the key to the story's creepiness, because the witchy women, led by Reilly's sexy school nurse, are all obsessed with convincing these affluent girls to stay pure. But not for any moral or religious reason, of course, but because they want to drink their blood. But Beckett catches on, even though no one else does, and decides to take matters (including her sexual experience) into her own hands, as much for her own protection from the witches as for romantic reasons.
What is it about rich New York City teens that makes a disproportionate number of YA stories focus on them? In the case of Innocence, the star really is a rich kid. Curtis is the daughter of the movie's producer and fashion designer Jill Stuart. Normally such connections shouldn't matter, but in this film, the young actress' underwhelming performance is explained by her nepotistic hire, considering that she's out-acted by pretty much everyone else in the movie, including her on-screen bestie Sutherland (herself the daughter of Kiefer Sutherland, but at least a decent actress in her own right).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of YA adaptations. Since most of these movies are based on phenomenally popular books, how is this one different?
There's a lot of conversation in the movie about virginity and purity; are the teachers trying to encourage the girls to go slow for healthy reasons or nefarious ones? What's your take-away about the movie's depiction of teen sexuality?
How does the violence in this movie compare to what you've seen in other YA adaptations? In other horror movies? Does it have more or less impact than violence that's more realistic?
Do you think the high school relationship portrayed in the movie is believable? How does it contrast with the rest of the story?
- In theaters: September 5, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: March 3, 2015
- Cast: Kelly Reilly, Linus Roache, Sophie Curtis, Graham Phillips
- Director: Hilary Brougher
- Studio: Spotlight Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Book Characters, High School, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some violence and bloody images, thematic material, sexuality and drug content - all involving teens
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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