This episode we’re breaking down the new horror movie The Turning.
The film has a big ending that probably left you scratching your head and throughout this, we’ll be giving our interpretation of it. I haven’t seen anyone else drop this theory yet so hopefully if you’ve watched other videos on the topic then this helps to paint the movie in a new light.
Obviously there will be heavy spoiler here so if you haven’t had a chance to watch the film yet and don’t want anything ruined then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
If you’re still here I just wanna give a huge thank you for clicking this, now let’s get into our breakdown of The Turning.
The Turning Book Influences
The Turning is actually based loosely on the novel The Turn Of The Screw By Henry James. Weirdly enough this is actually the first adaptation on the work that is due to be released this year and Haunting of Hill House producer Mike Flannagan is currently working on a similar property at the moment.
That is The Haunting Of Bly Manor which is reportedly due to be released at the end of 2020 exclusively on Netflix.
Similar to this movie, that series is reportedly going to be taking elements of the book and adapting them into its own story.
As for the book itself it centers around Miles, Flora and their guardian.
Ghost haunt them, Miles actually dies at the end and there are some massive subversions to what we see play out on screen.
Both the book and this film are set in Bly manor but The Turning Of The Screw explicitly states that the ghosts are real, whereas here it is possible that it could go either way.
The Turning Fan Theory
For this article though I’m just going to be giving my theory rather than diving between the two possible scenarios. I think there’s a lot of evidence to back my analysis up but obviously I’m open to you having a completely different opinion. As mentioned earlier I haven’t seen anyone cover this angle in their breakdown yet and hopefully, this gives you something new to think about if you’ve already watched another, probably better Youtuber.
Before we get into the interpretation though we need to layout the events of the story. I’m going to be doing them in Chronological Order and then we will dive back in and reanalyze them in order to show why certain things happened the way that they did.
The Turning Plot Recap
Anyway, the film itself predominantly focuses on Miles and Flora, two rich thoroughbred orphans. When they were young their parents died in a horrendous accident and this may or may not have been caused by the groundskeeper Quint. Flora witnessed their deaths and this has molded her into a shy young girl that is afraid to leave the property.
In the wake of their death, Quint began to Lorde over the manor, walking around like he owned the place, treating Miles like his son and even sleeping in the master bedroom.
This was much to the dismay of Ms. Grose who had been a member of the manor staff for the majority of her life. In order to raise the children correctly, she reached out to a tutor named Ms. Jessel who became a sort of live-in nanny on the grounds.
Quint became attracted to her and after he sexually assaulted her she tried to escape the property. However, he managed to catch her before she could get away and the character murdered her, dumping her in a pool around the house. This is what we open the movie on and it pretty much sets the scene for everything.
Grose killed Quint and made it look like an accident and then reached out to another nanny which is where we join Kate in 1994.
Kate was left by her father at a young age and her mother slowly went insane and now lives in a sanitarium. Kate sees a lot of her own story in that of Flora’s and desperately wants to help her.
After arriving at the Manor, Miles returns home due to being expelled from boarding school and slowly he begins to annoy Kate, making life harder and harder for her.
It becomes clear that Quint rubbed off on him and there are hints that he is controlling the young boy from beyond the grave.
Kate discovers Ms. Jessel’s diary and begins seeing the ghostly apparitions of her and Quint. Slowly this sends her insane and she becomes paranoid, distrustful and fearful of the property.
After being haunted for days upon end, Kate receives a parcel from her mother that is filled with what are essentially just charcoal scribblings.
She slowly begins to unearth exactly what has gone on and after a run-in, with more ghosts she discovers what happened to Ms. Jessel.
She confronts Ms. Grose about realizes that she knew about what Quint did and that she killed him and made it look like an accident. The ghost of the groundskeeper returns to kill Grose and though the specter chases Kate and the orphans, they are able to escape.
However, this is shown to just be a fantasy that is triggered by one of her mother’s drawings and slowly she descends into insanity. She begins accusing Miles and Flora of lying about not seeing ghosts and then in the final few moments spins off into her own fantasy of being at the hospital with her mother.
We see her mother is scribbling away on the floor and she turns around to face Kate who then screams and we cut to black. We never see what Kate saw but this reveal was enough to horrify her. It was also enough to horrify audiences into realising they’d just wasted money and 90 minutes they won’t get back.
So what is going on?
The Turning Ending Explained
Well, personally I believe the entire movie is a fantasy bar a few key moments. I know some people think some elements are real and some are not but overall I think that the majority of the film takes place in Kate’s head and is basically a re-imagining of something tragic that happened to her.
Now I believe that Kate is actually also Ms. Jessel and there’s a key signifier towards this that happens throughout the film which I’ll get into just a bit.
Kate Is Ms. Jessel
Personally I think that Ms. Jessel or Kate as I’ll call her worked at Bly Manor and helped to raise both Flora and Miles. However, Quint the groundskeeper obsessed over her and one night when she tried to escape he sexually assaulted her.
This completely broke Kate and she fled the manor, abandoning the children there. Ms. Grose covered this up and looked the other way, much in the same way that often did with Mile’s behavior and thus no justice came to Quint.
Due to her regret over leaving the children and the trauma that she faced she slowly went insane.
I believe that after this Kate was taken to an asylum where she lived out the rest of her days scrawling away and painting seemingly nonsensical pieces of artwork.
The movie is Kate in her head living out the life that she should have had, the path that she should have taken in which she saved the children, watched Ms. Grose die and escaped with them from the clutches of Quint.
But what evidence is there to support this?
When we are first introduced to her mother, she hands Kate a beautiful painting of her and I believe this is the face that she believes she now has.
There is also the fact that pretty much every time Kate sees Ms. Jessel it is through a reflective surface. She first notices the character when slamming a window and in the reflection of the glass she catches a glimpse of her. She later sees her in a pool of water which once more has a reflective surface and Jessel appears in a mirror when Kate is washing her face.
Kate cannot see this and it’s not like the ghosts know the cameras are there so the fact that Jessel is appearing without Kate even seeing her shows that this could be buried within her subconscious.
In her fantasy things would have to be perfect and thus Quint would be dead. However, due to her subconscious, he keeps creeping in at several points and Miles is actually a manifestation of Quint in several ways.
Miles Is Quint
He wears the same clothes as him and one of the first times that she notices the ghost is when he is walking into Miles’s bedroom. When she is playing the flashlight game she follows Miles downstairs and then slowly he transforms into Quint and terrorizes her.
Not only does Miles torment Kate throughout the movie but he also rides a black horse that we saw Quint doing in a photograph. Quint also died by falling off his horse and the scene where Kate chases Miles could be similar to the death scene that Grose apparently carried out.
Miles also almost forces himself on Kate at one point and kissed her unprompted. To me, this is a symbolism of the sexual assault that Quint carried out on Jessel and once more it adds to the similarities of the characters.
In Mile’s room, there is also a painting with lots of hands grabbing someone and this happens later in the film when Kate believes she is being attacked by the ghostly hands of Quint.
Quint apparently remarks on Kates tattoo and this also has significance. The tattoo is of Ouroboros, a snake eating itself, it shows that Kate’s insanity is slowly sending her spiraling into more madness.
The Turning Explained
So to reiterate, Kate went through something traumatic at the manor and painted out her perfect life in which she went to the manor, watched the woman who covered up her sexual assault die and saved the children that she abandoned.
She sees this in the painting of the car and then is snapped out of it and is quickly reminded by Grose that she is completely mad.
She goes down to see Miles and Flora and breaks Flora’s doll before claiming that she can fix it.
Miles says you can’t fix it, it’s broken and this comment is dissecting Kate’s mental state, showing that no matter what she will never get over it. She then returns to reality where she is back at the hospital watching herself scribble away and when the mother, or rather Kate turns around, she sees her own face and this is why she screams.
And that’s pretty much how I took the movie and what I think was really going on. Again if you disagree with me and think that it’s ghosts or that she was insane or even that she wasn’t Jessel then make sure you drop your theories below. This film is a big talking point and every theory differs massively from the last so yeah let me know what you thought was going on.
The Turning Review
As for the movie itself, I have to say I did feel massively disappointed by it. Though it started off pretty strong and I had high hopes for it due to the source material, I can’t help but feel let down.
The pacing was all off and too many sequences seemed to be inconsequential looking back to the point that it made the plot feel really hollow. I feel like the fan theories that have come from this film are more interesting than the film itself and though it has sparked a lot of conversation, it doesn’t feel like it deserves it.
The ending has only really had so much spring from it because it is so ambiguous and rather than feeling complete it feels very well…underdeveloped.
I’m sure there will be people that loved this and though it’s better than this month’s other big horror: The Grudge, it definitely underdelivered for me.
January was Turning…pun intended into a pretty good month with 1917, Bad Boys For Life and The Gentlemen but this feels like a dud and I can’t really recommend it because of that.
I feel like I had to make the movie better in my head in order for it to be good and that’s a big disappointment, especially from what I was expecting this to turn out like.
Overall The Turning let me down and that’s why it gets a…
Now obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Turning and what you thought of the ending. Comment below and let me know.