Directed By: Oz Perkins
Starring: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Skipka, Lucy Boynton, Lauren Holly and James Remar
Run Time: 1h 33mins
Genre: Horror, Thriller
3 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
Are you a horror fan looking for something new? Then don’t miss Blackcoat’s Daughter; another winner from A24! The short answer as to why you can’t miss this is that it totally embodies the new part that you’ve been looking for. So, here’s a bit of unsolicited advice for you, if you don’t mind, don’t read much more about the film. Don’t watch a trailer. Go in cold, only knowing that you have to see it. You’re a horror fan and that’s all you need to be. If you’d like to continue reading, I don’t give away too much.
Cinematically, it’s a stunner. I’m ready to watch it again for the pure enjoyment of it. The music is so unsettling, the way bows screech across their string instruments or the strings are plucked hard to get your attention in a given moment… genius. Much like horror classics, the music is central in setting the sweeping tenor of the film. It was absolutely unnerving.
You’ll also be impressed with how this story, that centers on three different girls, starts to unfold. Kat (Shipka) and Rose (Boynton) are stuck at their Catholic school in Bramford during winter break. When their parents don’t come and pick them up, the headmaster asks that they are watched over by a couple of nuns. Kat and Rose don’t know one another very well, nor do they particularly like one another, but they’re making due with the situation they find themselves.
Then we are introduced to a young woman on the road named Joan who is played by Emma Roberts. She’s odd; almost lifeless when she is approached by Bill (Remar) and Linda (Holly) who assume the girl’s in trouble and would like to help. She reminds Bill of their daughter and he can’t help but tell her so. Uncomfortable, but desperate to get to Bramford, she accepts the ride. As Joan gets closer to Bramford, she gets more and more dark and we cut back and forth to and from the other girls.
We begin to pick up on more of each storyline. Things are revealed about Kat who is having terrifying visions and she, like Joan, seems to get ill while her demeanor changes, as well. Rose overhears something sinister and creeps around in the dark, abandoned school halls. She does something that I don’t believe anyone in her situation would, however, and that is go downstairs where it’s dark and peeks through the window in a door she has no business looking through. It’s here she sees something she wishes she hadn’t. But when did this happen exactly and are you sure? Just when you think you have this movie figured out, you didn’t know a thing. What really works is how the tension builds in both storylines and you cannot wait to see them intersect… if that’s in fact what’s going to happen.
Perkins’ writing and directing mixed with cinematographer Julie Kirkwood’s style, who worked with Perkins on the Netflix original I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, as well, will leave an impression on you. This is a well told, rare, impactful story. Perkins took special care in making sure you remembered his characters long after the movie was over. I can assure you that you will. The weather adds shading, the sets add mood, the lighting creates fear and, of course, the performances grip you. Perkins wastes nothing in enhancing the film’s ambiance to set a specific tone for you.
I couldn’t wait to see where the stories would come together. As the movie got further and further in, I was getting more and more uncomfortable watching it alone… I’ll admit to then allowing a little daylight in by opening the curtains. Let’s see how you fair. You can catch Blackcoat’s Daughter wherever it’s playing near you this weekend. Have fun!