school has its semester break in February? It sounds like particularly poor
planning for a boarding school in the snowy Northeast. Indeed, the staff
assumes two of their students’ parents have been waylaid by the weather, but we
suspect something much more sinister is afoot in Osgood Perkin’s The Blackcoat’s Daughter (a.k.a. February, trailer here), which A24 and DirecTV will
release in theaters and On-Demand March 31, 2017.
the upperclassman deliberately gave her parents incorrect information to allow
herself more time to deal with what she suspects is an unwanted pregnancy. In
contrast, young Kat was eagerly anticipating the arrival of her parents, but she
fears her nightmarish visions of an icy car crash have come true. Something
very bad will happen during their long lonely night at Bramford, which will
continue to reverberate nine years later.
that later timeline, Joan Marsh is trying to reach Bramford as quickly as
possible, even though she is conspicuously unprepared for the harsh winter
weather. Presumably, she is quite fortunate to get picked up by Bill and Linda,
but they too have a troubling backstory. Apparently, she reminds him of their
late daughter, a Bramford student who was brutally murdered. Obviously, the
trauma left them permanently damaged, but they might also be somewhat cracked.
Eventually, all the relationships become clear as Perkins cuts between
is the son of Anthony Perkins, the original Norman Bates, and he definitely
upholds the standards of the family business. Blackcoat is an extraordinarily disciplined horror film that cranks
up the tension through the power of suggestion and uncertainty rather than
messy special effects. In a more just world, Blackcoat would be a shoe-in for an Academy Award for its profoundly
unsettling ambient sound design and that ghostly “Deedle, deedle, Blackcoat’s daughter,
what was in the holy water” song would at least be one of the ceremony’s
musical numbers, regardless whether it is Oscar-eligible. The spartan deserted
prep school setting is also eerie as all get out.
Shipka and Emma Roberts are creepy as heck as Kat and Marsh. However, it is
James Remar and Lauren Holly who really kick the film up several notches as
Bill and Linda. We’re talking about some stinging,
push-you-into-the-back-of-your-seat work here. They also provide some helpful
misdirection for a twist that really isn’t that hard to anticipate—however, its
implications are deeply disturbing.
There is no doubt Perkins has a keen grasp of
what makes the demonic so profoundly terrifying. He also has a practical
understanding of horror movie mechanics. This is a scary movie, precisely
because of its subtlety and exacting mise-en-scène. Highly recommended for
smart horror fans, The Blackcoat’s
Daughter opens this Friday (3/31) in New York, at the Village East.
Labels: Horror Movies, James Remar, Osgood Perkins