The Turning (2020) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after their parents' deaths. A modern take on Henry James' novella "The Turn of the Screw."

  • A young woman quits her teaching job to be a private tutor (governess) for a wealthy young heiress who witnessed her parent's tragic death. Shortly after arriving, the girl's degenerate brother is sent home from his boarding school. The tutor has some strange, unexplainable experiences in the house and begins to suspect there is more to their story.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film begins on a dark night at a rich and lonely estate in the woods. A frightened woman tries to leave the property. She runs to her car and attempts to drive off of the plantation. From a bedroom window of the house, a little girl named Flora watches. The woman reaches the gates that lead off of the property but is stopped by a man in the darkness who grabs her by the throat.

    Some time after, new governess Kate accepts the proposition of watching two children on the rich plantation, Flora and Miles. She is drawn to the proposition having been an orphan herself since her father left her mother who went insane and has been living at an insane asylum ever since. Her mother spends her time alone painting indiscernible paintings. Kate says goodbye to her mother and then leaves for the estate. Once there, she is met by the cold and unfeeling housekeeper Mrs. Gross. She quickly befriends little Flora and then is told from Gross that Flora has never left the estate. Flora tells Kate that she has never been in the darker area of the house, the East Wing. That night, Kate is drawn to the East Wing and then finds herself trapped within. She escapes and comes face-to-face with the relentlessly creepy and infuriating-to-watch-to-the-point-of-near-insanity, Miles who has returned from Boarding School.

    The next morning, Kate learns from the Headmaster at Miles' school that Miles has been expelled for beating a classmate up and nearly killing him. Gross refuses to believe this and remains a nagging and annoying person to Kate for the remainder of the film- contributing nothing to Kate's plight. Miles cuts Kate off whenever she tries to reach out to him, and Kate learns from Flora that the former nanny Miss Jessel left without saying Goodbye which hurt Flora. Kate finds Jessel's notebook and reads it, finding out that Miles' horse-trainer Quint had been making constant moves on Jessel and assaulting her. Kate is then haunted by terrible nightmares of Miles attacking her, Miles turning into Quint, and Quint's hands trying to molest her.

    Kate learns from Gross that Quint died when he fell from his horse in a drunken ride. Having been fed up with Miles' annoying and relentlessly infuriating behavior, (the kind that would make any sane audience member want to punch his teeth down his throat) Kate contemplates leaving the job but remembers her promise to Flora and remains. Kate then receives some mail from her mother as well as a set of black paintings, which she looks at. That night, she is lured outside by Jessel's ghost to a set of ruins in the woods. It is there where she finds Jessel's corpse in a pool of water. Kate returns to the mansion and is lured by voices to a room in the East Wing where she sees the ghostly vision of Jessel being strangled to death by Quint.

    Kate is attacked by Quint but Gross opens the door and shakes her out of this stupor. Realizing Gross knows what became of Jessel, Kate attempts to take the kids away. Gross infers that she orchestrated Quint's death having been fed with his behavior and bad influence on Miles. They are then attacked by Quint's ghost who kills Gross by pushing her over the stairs. Kate finds Flora and Miles- the latter of which apologizes for his unworthiness. They pile up in Kate's car and leave the premises, driving away into the night.

    But wait- that never happened! All of what Kate experienced was a hallucination within the black paintings her mother made her. Kate confronts the children about their treatment of her and they deny they had anything to do with her. Kate accidentally breaks one of Flora's dolls and Flora freaks out. Miles points out that Kate is broken just like the doll. Kate then sees herself on a red bed at the dark asylum. A demonic figure who looks like her mother is there, crawling on the floors of the asylum and painting on the floor. The creature looks at Kate, who screams and recoils in horror at what she sees. Sorry if you came here for more explanations of what that meant- your guess is as good as mine.

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