Two girls who are left alone at their prep school Bramford over winter break when their parents mysteriously fail to pick them up. While the girls experience increasingly strange and creepy occurrences at the isolated school, Joan is determined to get to Bramford as fast as she can. As Joan gets closer to the school, the two girls become plagued by progressively intense and horrifying visions.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a truly atmospheric film that begins on Kat (Kiernan Shipka doing a great Luna Lovegood) and Rose (Lucy Boynton). These two girls are left alone at Bramford prep school over winter break when, mysteriously, neither of their parents pick them up for the holiday. During their chilly isolation at the school the girls experience increasingly strange and creepy occurrences. Meanwhile Joan (Emma Roberts), a troubled young woman on the road, is determined to get to Bramford as fast as she can. The closer Joan gets to the school, the more Kat becomes plagued by progressively intense and horrifying visions. Rose does her best to help her new friend as she slips further and further into the grasp of an unseen evil force. It is a shame to have to say that, while there are some great moments, The Blackcoat’s Daughter suffers under the weight of its aspired mood.
Like we said at the beginning. The atmosphere in this film is key and writer director Osgood Perkins, (son of Anthony Perkins) knows how to capture the desolate feeling of winter. The icy chill seems to pour from the screen as the characters shuttle from building to building at the austere dormitory.
Too the performances by every one are phenomenal. Shipka‘s Kat is at once confused at her being marooned at the school and even more distressed at the sudden and bizarre changes she is experiencing within her own mind. Boynton, as Rose is the kind of girl your parents warned you about, yet she plays hard assed bitch and compassionate confidant with nimble dexterity. It’s a lot of fun to see these two actresses take what could be simply executed roles and really give them some resonance. Roberts‘ Joan is a fine character, but for some reason her story seems lacking something, perhaps because she had less to work with.
With as many stellar choices made in the movie, there are just as many head scratchers. The film plays it coy, revealing as little as possible until absolutely necessary. Often times that can be a good thing. However, here we are asked to endure a tremendous amount of heavy atmosphere without the equal payoff. What is there is good, but there could have been just a little more to really give it some teeth. There is also an interesting tactic used in the way in which the story is told. Playing with chronology and telling parallel storylines can be used to great effect, however I am still trying to wrap my head around how this serviced the story in any way.
The BlackCoat’s Daughter is not a triumph, but it certainly doesn’t deserve a failing grade. The performances were truly fascinating to watch, the plot was quite fun despite how it was told, and the production looked like a million bucks. It was just unfortunate that, despite all that was going for it, the oppressive, leaden pacing kept the film from taking flight.
THE BLACKCOAT‘S DAUGHTER in theaters and On Demand March 31, 2017
|The Blackcoat’s Daughter|