Why me? What did I do?
Director : Oz Perkins
Cast : Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, James Remar and Lauren Holly
So I was browsing Netflix on Saturday evening, trying to find any of the films that I currently have on my “to watch” list, proving ultimately unsuccessful, but one film that I did find was a film called “February”, more commonly known as “The Blackcoat’s Daughter”, and the set up seemed interesting, plus it had Emma Roberts and Lucy Boynton in it, two actresses in appeared in my top twenty last year with “Nerve” and “Sing Street” respectively.
So based on that I have decided to give it a go. Most people know that I’m not majorly into horror, I don’t find them particularly scary, remotely interesting or engaging. They are just there to let out the sadistic side of someone who generally just wants to see people killed. I didn’t realise how much I generally found the genre to be unengaging until I did those 31 reviews in October 2015 as I lead up to Halloween. Whilst there were some gems in there, such as “Hidden”, the vast majority were not very good.
The horror films that I have liked in recent years have been the ones where it wasn’t your typical horror. In other words it built the characters well, or whether it doesn’t fall into the typical horror cliches, with one example being the excellent “The Babadook”. But anyway, I digress, let’s see if this is any good.
Rose (Boynton) and Kat (Shipka) stay in a boarding school and are preparing to go home for the half term, but neither of their parents arrive to pick them up. It turns out that Rose did this on purpose as she wants to talk to her boyfriend as she believes she has fallen pregnant. The school convinces Rose to look after Kat, but she is less than willing when it comes to actually doing it.
Soon Kat starts being considerably quieter than before, and starts giving off a vibe that something is wrong. This starts proving offputting to Rose, especially when she sees Kat seemingly doing a ritual in front of the boiler. Short and sharp answers don’t help, and Rose is particularly disturbed when Kat utters “you had your chance!”
Meanwhile, a young woman called Joan (Roberts) is travelling to Portsmith, a small town near where the boarding school is. Whilst waiting at the bus stop she is approached by a man named Bill (Remar), who offers her a lift as he is heading that way, although his wife (Holly) is far from impressed. Bill reveals he had a daughter that once went to the school that died, almost nine years ago to the day.
So which side does it fall under?
I can see why some didn’t like this movie. It you go on IMDB it has a rating of 5.7/10, which isn’t that impressive, and I think the reason for this is that ultimately not a lot happens until the final twenty or so minutes. It is most definitely a slow burner and I think that it will polarise the audience into either hating or liking it, and I fall very much into the latter.
For the first twenty or so minutes I was struggling to really piece together what was going on and what the story was, and it does take a while to get into, but the atmosphere is so uneasy that you want to keep watching, and you’re inevitably rewarded with a solid horror experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not scared by horrors, but the music, as well as the lighting techniques used throughout the movie, made me a bit uneasy in a film where nothing really happens, but you’re always on edge as the music makes you think something might be coming.
The cinematography in the film is surprisingly decent given that it is a low budget horror movie, and the dark nature of the early scenes sets the tone quite well.
The acting performances from the cast are pretty much spot on, even though the plot doesn’t require any of them to really show any sort of range. James Remar arguably gives the best performance though as a man who is trying to get over the loss of his daughter, and tells Joan that she reminds him of his daughter, even though they blatantly look nothing alike. You gain a deep understanding of the character, and that is what I like about these type of horror films. Having a body count for the sake of having a body count isn’t that engaging, but when you develop the characters to the point where you genuinely get upset when they’re killed, that’s when you’ve done a good job.
I only have one gripe about the film that is something I touched on in the last paragraph. The scene in which Bill shows Joan a picture of his daughter and says that she died nine years ago contains a major spoiler to the end of the film and takes some of the tension out of it as you know what to expect going forward. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t actually stop me enjoying the movie, but it was still largely disappointing that you know how the movie will end at least 30/40 minutes in advance.
Other than that though “Blackcoat’s Daughter” is a fairly solid and understated attempt at a horror film.
Whilst there is the problem that it gives away part of the climax of the story about half way through the film, I found “Blackcoat’s Daughter” to be a very decent and original attempt at horror. It doesn’t try any of the usual stereotypes of horror, and I found this be quite refreshing.
It is genuinely unsettling at times, without really doing anything out of the ordinary, and to get that result when you’re ultimately not doing a lot says that about how refreshing the film is. I’m not going to sit here and claim that this is one of the most original horror films that I have ever seen as it does borrow from a lot of other movies in the genre, but it is an all-round decent effort.
I would definitely recommend that you watch this.