The Blackcoats Daughter
It’s easy to see why The Blackcoat’s Daughter divided viewers when it came out.
It’s a slow burn – emphasis on SLOW.
Watching the film is like experiencing an endless waking nightmare of tortured visions that float across your mind’s eye in a macabre parade.
Overall, the film works pretty well. I appreciated the fact that it tries – and largely succeeds – at being an unconventional horror film. One without cheap jump scares or predictable endings where final girls are pursued by generic killers.
The story is interesting enough: two young girls at a Catholic boarding school await the arrival of their respective parents before embarking on a break. They are left with two nuns to chaperone them in the otherwise empty campus, when one of the girls begin to experience disturbing visions of her parents’ demise in a car crash on the way to pick her up. From there, things get darker as the girl becomes more and more distant – and considerably stranger. Meanwhile, the film picks up the story of a third girl who appears to be a drifter with a troubled past – a past that involved some sort of violent episode at a mental hospital. She is given a ride by a man who appears to be a kind, gentle sort of dude – but could also be a pervy rapist and murderer. The fact that he’s traveling with a woman he claims is his wife only adds to the suspense of this sequence.
To reveal more would spoil things, so I won’t. Suffice to say, things continue to get weirder and way darker for everyone involved.
The problem for me was that the slow burn aspect of the film was waaaay too slow. I feel the payoff was there, but it’s easy to see why viewers either tuned out or turned their attention to something a little faster paced – like watching paint dry or something. The acting is fine and the directing style of Osgood Perkins (son of Anthony Perkins) is first-rate, apart from the pacing issues.
At just over ninety-minutes, Daughter certainly isn’t a long film, but it sure as hell feels like it, especially in the first two acts. Cutting it to an hour would be my suggestion, but that would turn it into the world’s longest short film. Still, it would’ve worked better if it got to the point a little faster.
This was Osgood Perkins’ feature debut. He went to direct the Netflix film, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, which I also reviewed for this blog. It’s clear after watching both films the man enjoys the slow burn. I’m OK with this, overall. The slow burn can be done well – look no further than The Witch, for example. But Mr. Perkins needs to speed things up. Daughter is far better than Pretty Thing, but I’m going to be hesitant about watching his next film.
The performance of Emma Roberts kept me watching here. She’s terrific in this, as she was in the hilarious comedy from a few years ago – The Millers. Playing comedy and drama as well as she does is not easy. I hope there are more horror films in her future. She’s more than up to the task.
I think the payoff is there, Deadies – if you’re patient. My advice? Put away your phone before watching this, or the pace of Daughter will have you posting about how bored you are in no time. If you hang in there, attention intact, the cleverness of the story will take you over.
Thanks for reading!
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is streaming on Amazon.