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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
The setting of a modern Nordic housing estate may be different but the chilling elements of Eskil Vogt's latest film has a long and successful lineage that includes the likes of The Turn Of The Screw, The Midwich Cuckoos and any number of Stephen King books. The kids, you see, are not quite all right. Take nine-year-old Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum), for example. She's just moved to the estate with her mum, dad and older sister Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad), who has autism. You can see Ida knows it's wrong to pinch her sibling but there's a frustration and loneliness that fuels her, egged on, perhaps, by the fact that Anna doesn't seem to feel it.
When Ida meets the similarly aged Ben (Sam Ashraf) - who notably is sporting a large bruise that signposts trouble at home - it seems like a positive friendship might be formed as he shows a little trick he can play with his mind, but a game with a cat that they encounter in the woods, soon takes a very sadistic turn.
Telekinesis and telepathy are always enjoyably chilling ingredients and the bright summer sunshine and candy coloured clothes the kids wear adds to the oddness, powers operating in daylight somehow more unexpected than those that come at night. To the kids, though, they are no more magic than the erasable Magna Doodle-style drawing screen Anna loves - and this is very much the children's world.
The subtlety Vogt employs as a director pays off in spades as he gets as much creepy mileage from the disturbance of soil and water as any amount of CGI could muster. He keeps his threats simple but effective. We are often allowed to see the danger looming which helps it gather heft. He is helped by tremendous performances from his young cast, in particular, Fløttum, who is at the heart of the moral conflict of the film, having to make choices about right and wrong that she has never encountered before. The others may have the psychic abilities but it's her mental strength in the face of a moral maze that really gets put to the test.