Horror, mystery, and tragedy come together to make an excellent film.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter had a limited release in 2015, but for some reason it took about two years for the film to hit U.S. cinemas. What is a bummer about this is I cannot rightfully identify the film as a 2017 narrative—if I could, this would be one my favorite movies of the year. Director Oz Perkins has created something truly remarkable here.
The story is subtle and bleak. We follow three young women through an interconnected plot that tells a story of loss and evil. The environment and atmosphere of this film are done amazingly well. The grey and cold feeling of the buildings reflects the harsh outside. There is a depressing and tense feeling throughout the entire film that almost never breaks.
The film broods with a slow tension that does eventually boil over in an explosive and tragic finale. I have heard some say they found the film boring, I do suppose I can see where they are coming from, but the atmosphere mesmerized me. The film wants to work its magic on you, and the best thing to do is simply buckle in for the mellow and haunting ride.
While Perkins does deserve a lot of credit for building such a beautiful world, our three leading ladies also merit praise. Kiernan Shipka takes the lead as Katherine (or Kat), who is a young freshman at a prestigious religious institution. With an approaching break and recital, all of the young students are excited to see thie rparents and for some time away from school. The film opens with Katherine having a haunted dream about her parents dying in a car crash.
As the school empties and her parent’s have not arrived the headmaster puts Rose (Lucy Boynton) in charge of looking out for her younger peer. The film starts off a bit familiar. Oh, we will have the naïve freshman teaming up with the jaded senior to ward of something—nope. This movie subverts tropes as much as it deploys them. Instead of actively avoided tropes or clichés this film absorbs them and recalibrates them to their most effective end.
At the start of the film I fell into the trap. I sided with Katherine over Rose (for no real great reason, really), but as the film goes on your allegiances will change. The summaries of the film don’t do it justice, and it is hard to talk about the plot without giving away anything. Particularly how Joan (Emma Roberts) comes to play a pivotal role in the story as a whole.
I honestly do not have anything bad to say about this film. Here we have a great story that understands the genre and uses it to not only explore horror, but also grief, loss, and loneliness. We have a thoughtful creeper that will stay with you after the credits roll.
If I had to nitpick anything, it would be that the film reveals its hand a little early. I won’t say what that is, but delaying it even ten more minutes would have amped the tension up.
Overall, this movie is a diamond in the rough. We are going to see the new It tonight, and I am hopeful that turns out well (note added: you can tell how unorganized my backlog is by this comment). For now though, The Blackcoat’s Daughter and The Snare are the two best horror films I have seen in a while. If this one would have been truly released in 2017 it would be my #2 film of the year right now. 9.5/10