Henry James' classic horror story The Turn of the Screw gets re-imagined as a 1990s period piece in the trailer for next year's The Turning. James' 1898 novella has already been adapted to film several times since it was published, and will even serve as the basis for the upcoming second season of Netflix's The Haunting TV series, The Haunting of Bly Manor. This particular retelling is the brainchild of producer Steven Spielberg, who's reportedly been wanting to work on another horror movie in recent years (having famously cowritten and supposedly ghost-directed - pun not intended - Poltergeist in 1982).
In 2016, The Turning went into production under the title Haunted (with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo directing), but was cancelled five weeks in by Spielberg himself. Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways) was later brought onboard to call the shots instead, with filming getting started in Ireland in early 2018. Written by Carey W. and Chad Hayes (The Conjuring), The Turning revolves around Kate (Mackenzie Davis), a nanny who's recruited to care for a pair of peculiar orphans (Finn Wolfhard and Brooklynn Prince) at a massive, but decaying and possibly haunted estate in Maine.
In an interview with EW, Sigismondi talked about the logic behind setting The Turning in the 1990s, explaining “I just wanted to take away the technology and really drown yourself in the environment. How cinematic is it to have a screenshot of a phone?” She added that she took inspiration specifically from Jack Clayton's 1961 horror drama The Innocents (a previous adaptation of James' novella), when it came to her approach on the film. You can get a taste of the results by watching the trailer below (courtesy of Amblin), followed by the poster.
The trailer doesn't focus much on the film's '90s setting (save for the lack of smartphones and laptops), but does a good job of making The Turning look like a stylish and otherwise creepy thriller. Classic gothic horror stories don't immediately lend themselves to relatively modern interpretations, but The Haunting season 1 (aka. The Haunting of Hill House) showed that it's not only possible, but can add a whole new element to the original story. Sigismondi has already proven she's great at creating atmosphere with her stylized work on shows like Daredevil, The Handmaid's Tale, and America Gods, so that also bodes well for The Turning.
Wolfhard seems equally freaky here and continues to demonstrate his range as an actor, following his previous performances in Strangers Things and the IT movies (he was even pretty good as young Boris from last month's not so beloved The Goldfinch adaptation). Mackenzie's career is similarly on the up and up, and the Black Mirror veteran may yet manage to cement her status as a new scream queen with her role in The Turning. Between Bly Manor and Sigismondi's movie, fans of James' source material have a lot to look forward to in 2020, it would appear.