In 2016, many people were singing the praises of an independent film that went straight to Netflix called I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, written and directed by Oz Perkins. Perkins also penned The Girl in the Photographs, which many horror fans seemed to love. Personally, neither film made quite the same impact on me, although Perkins’ talent is undeniable. Then along comes The Blackcoat’s Daughter that, while completed first, somehow sat dormant until now, which is a shame because it is arguably Perkins’ best film.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is set at a boarding school and centers on two young girls who are saying behind over their winter break. Kat (Kiernan Shipka) is introverted, clingy and a little creepy, left behind by absent parents. Rose (Lucy Boynton) is popular, pretty and staying behind to rendezvous with her boyfriend. Rose is tasked with looking after Kat, who seems to be breaking down over being alone. A second story is being told simultaneously. Joan (Emma Roberts) is attempting to make her way in the direction of the school, but her exact objective is, initially, vague.
To give any further plot details would spoil everything. It would also be advisable to avoid any trailers and go into the film as blind as possible. The less one knows, the better.
The story is simplistic and a tad predictable. It also moves at a very slow pace so patience is needed, but, unlike I Am the Pretty Thing, the payoff is far more satisfying.
Perkins’ real mastery lies in his ability to create an atmosphere that makes up for what the story lacks. Set in the dead of winter, the bleak, snowy backdrop sets the mood. The use of muted colors evoke feelings of dread and sadness that work in harmony with the pacing of the film.
It won’t be surprising if The Blackcoat’s Daughter turns out to be as polarizing as Perkins’ other films, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Oz Perkins is someone to keep an eye on.
Suzanne Bell | Twitter: @chazensjezebel
Images courtesy of Katrina Wan PR