“The Innocents”: Kids scare the darnedest things

innocents-kerr

It killed me to learn that Henry James’ original “The Turn of the Screw” had been published around Christmastime, because ghost stories at Christmas are something of a British tradition. “A Christmas Carol” notwithstanding, “Screw,” and its elegant and disturbing 1961 British film, doesn’t feel at all like the sort of thing you’d snuggle in with on Christmas Eve. It’s even a little too dark for Halloween, with its moral and supernatural ambiguity suffusing every frame. It is, as historian Christopher Frayling puts it on one of the extras on the new Criterion Collection edition of “The Innocents,” one of cinema’s great ghost stories adapted from one of literature’s great ghost stories.

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