Review: The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)
Title: The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
Director: Oz Perkins
Stars (Primary Actors): Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton
Bias: As a huge indie horror fan, I was looking forward to this from the beginning. I think Emma Roberts really hit her stride as the snarky queen bee in the dearly departed horror comedy TV series Screen Queens, so I was excited to see her in another genre piece. While her character in The Blackcoat’s Daughter is the polar opposite of Chanel, I still think she is at her best when playing darker roles. I am not really a fan of schoolgirl tropes or films centering around a possession. But, from what I heard, this film turns those tropes on their heads in a successful way, so I was willing to give it a try.
In a Nutshell: It’s winter break at The Bramford School, and all the students have been picked up by their parents except for Rose and Kat. The older, rebellious Rose (Lucy Boynton) begrudgingly agrees to keep an eye on young freshman Kat (Kiernan Shipka). Meanwhile, a third girl (Emma Roberts) with a clouded past is on a mysterious journey that intersects in an unknown way with the other girls. As their stories converge, evil spirits take over.
The Critique: People say this film is a slow burn, but I feel that it is the complete opposite. Maybe the first 20 minutes are calm and scare-free, but from then on it is all horror. I think the film could have benefitted from more character development for both Kat and Rose. In order to keep this review spoiler free, I’ll just say that I saw the twist coming from a mile away. And I’m never one to guess the twist before it is staring me in the face.
Typically, I wouldn’t complain about a dumb title, but in this case it is egregious. The director originally titled the film February to evoke how a specific time or place can hold certain meaning for a person. Every character in the film is having a truly awful February, all centered around this one prep school. A24, the production company, apparently wanted the title to be more genre-specific, so Perkins took the title of the song used as the intro and outro. Chilling? Yes. Relevant in any way? Not at all.
Shout-Outs: The tone of the film is where its strength lies. The score, from the director’s brother Elvis Perkins, combined with the generally eerie setting of an all-girls school in the winter creates a feeling of unease from the very beginning and never waivers.
Choice Quote: “Hail Satan” (It comes across equal parts terrifying and hilarious hearing it come out of the young Kiernan Shipka, who delivers it with as much commitment as anyone could).
To Go, Rent or Netflix: When fall comes around and you’re looking to revel in the built-in darkness of the times, look to this movie to really get you in that witchy mood. The director said that he thinks the best horror movies are ‘sad person’ movies. His personal bias shows in this film and it’s sure to bring you down a bit (in the best way). This film is on Amazon and is free to Prime members, so if you have an account it’s definitely worth a casual watch. But there are better, more interesting movies out now or on Netflix (It Comes at Night and It Follows are two great, slow-burning options to check out).