The Blackcoat’s Daughter: Surprisingly Affective Slow-Burning Horror
Blessed with a chilling atmosphere and a terrifying undertone of dread, The Blackcoat’s Daughter – also known as February- is one of the most uncomfortable and unnervingly intense movie experiences you will come across this year. Written and directed by actor-turned-director Oz Perkins, the story is slow, quiet and deliberate in its delivery and as a result, requires a lot of patience from those watching. However, if you are willing to give it a chance and stick it out to the end, the outcome just might please you.
Set almost entirely at a remote Catholic prep school for girls, students Kat (the astoundingly creepy Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Boynton) are the last two girls left in the building whilst everyone else has packed up and left home for the especially cold winter break. With their parent’s arrival delayed, the girls have no choice but the spend the night alone at the institution, with only a pair of teachers who live on the grounds to supervise them.
As the night arrives, so do the creeps, especially when Rose catches Kat doing something strange and creepy in the basement of the building. Meanwhile, in another town close by, Joan (Roberts) – a quiet and a seemingly distraught young woman haunted by mysterious flashbacks – can be found sitting alone in the cold and she seems to be heading towards the same location as Kate and Rose. She ends up catching a ride with a helpful couple (played by Remar and Holly) who, as it turns out, have their own personal traumas to deal with.
Staying well away from cheap scare tactics and predictable jump scares, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is followed by an inevitable sense of doom, which doesn’t really ease up until the movie’s closing minutes. The mood is thick and heavy, so much so that it’s almost too difficult to sit through without squirming in your seat a little. Coated with a deadly silence, Perkins definitely takes his time in getting the story to unfold and while his crawling pace might put have some viewers a little agitated, the payoff is relatively pleasing.
The performances are solid – Shipka delivers one of the creepiest performances of her young career – and the atmosphere is suitably isolating. However, it’s the movie’s leisurely pace which might not sit all too well with the viewers who, if they are not totally into the slow-build terrors, might lose interest.