By Clark Collis
October 08, 2019 at 12:00 PM EDT

In haunted house film The Turning (out Jan. 24, 2020), Mackenzie Davis is a nanny charged with looking after two children, played by Finn Wolfhard and Brooklynn Prince, on a huge estate in Maine.

The Turning is based on a classic Henry James novel called The Turn of the Screw,” says director Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways, The Handmaid’s Tale). “It’s a very dark story that’s endured for over a hundred years. We’ve taken this story, and modernized it, and placed it in the 1990s. It follows a nanny who is looking [for] a life change, and when she arrives at the house she meets two orphans, Flora and Miles. They start to act a little strange and she senses that they’re harboring a secret, that they’re hiding something from her. She quickly realizes that there’s something wrong in the house.”

The Turn of the Screw has been adapted on several previous occasions, most notably in the highly-regarded form of filmmaker Jack Clayton’s 1961 movie, The Innocents.

“I studied what worked in that film, and the atmosphere it created, and how the house became a character, and what we saw and didn’t see,” says Sigismondi. “I also loved how that film made it about the nanny and not just about the things that were happening n the house. So, I really drew upon those things, and modernized it, and made it my own.”

Despite his youth, Wolfhard has already become quite the horror veteran thanks to his appearances in Stranger Things, the It movies, and now The Turning.

“He’s great fun on set,” says Sigismondi. “His personality is actually the opposite of horror, so it’s funny that he’s fallen into that.”

As for the ’90s setting, Sigismondi explains she was keen for the film to take place in a period before people were able to find things out by consulting their phones.

“I just wanted to take away the technology and really drown yourself in the environment,” says the director. “How cinematic is it to have a screenshot of a phone?”

The Turning is written by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes and costars Joely Richardson. Exclusively see first look images from the film, below.

Credit: Patrick Redmond/Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures
Credit: Patrick Redmond/Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures
Credit: Patrick Redmond/Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

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