Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the psychological horror feature THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER by writer/director Oz Perkins. To best describe the story I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:

“Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.” 

Very early on it becomes clear that this is a film steeped in atmosphere. From the screeching, shambling score to the tense moments of silence, this is designed to make the viewer feel uncomfortable with the proceedings. It seems incredibly appropriate that they use these tactics to sneak up on the audience given that the subject matter is a slowly unfolding demon possession.

What really struck a chord with me was the appearance, or lack thereof, of the entity. Instead of some sort of crazy makeup design or a cloaked figure with a slightly human look, we are presented with a sinister silhouette that has what we assume to be two horns protruding from its head. The fact that little else is revealed about how the demon looks plants the idea that evil is indistinct and hidden from human eyes.

Speaking of the actual cast, I have to admit I was duly impressed with their performances. Their portrayals of people caught dealing with something they were entirely unprepared for felt so perfect that it was almost easy to overlook their solid work. Never once did I feel anyone was weak, but all played their parts so well that they complimented, and never overshadowed, the thick sense of dread.

All that praise being said, I do feel as if the story itself could have been a bit tighter. By the end I had a reasonable grasp of what had occurred, but I misheard one line of dialogue that completely changed one notion I had about the outcome. There were also a few things that were shown that were not really explained to the point that they came off as completely extraneous to the plot.

All in all, this is an incredibly atmospheric horror piece with some truly creepy imagery. While the story could have been a bit more accessible, there is enough visual and aural stimulation to warrant a view from those wanting a different take on the nature of evil. Fans of moody movies like THE WITCH (2015) and THE CONJURINGS (2013)should definitely give this some of their time.

A24 and DirecTV will release THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER in theaters and On Demand March 31, 2017

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