The Blackcoat’s Daughter churns away at the soul and the psyche with a slow and effective grind that resonates deeply.
Osgood Perkins directorial debut which he also penned may not be for everyone with a pace that is so slow you’d be forgiven for that thinking that you were positively stationary.
What lifts this above most standard fare is the performances of Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) who continues to show a level of maturity that belies her age and Emma Roberts (Nerve), who is also carving a strong career path with her film choices.
Told in two separate timelines that isn’t revealed until the climax, we initially follow Shipka’s Kat, a freshman who is waiting for her parents to pick her up from a prestigious boarding school for the holidays.
Surrounded by snow in a wintry climate that is reminiscent of Let The Right One In, Kat becomes increasingly more aloof and her behaviour more peculiar as a result.
Her sense of isolation is further exasperated as she fails to connect with the nuns at the school and the only other student on the premises, Rose (Lucy Boynton) who is herself too consumed with her own pregnancy that she fails to see Kat’s shrinking from the world and inner turmoil.
Meanwhile, Roberts’ Joan is making her own journey towards said boarding school where she is offered a lift by two parents grieving for the loss of their daughter.
The father seems sympathetic to Joan’s plight as if he recognises his own daughter within her. The irony being that she is far from it and actually the perpetrator of his daughters death.
The struggle of human connectivity or lack thereof is front and centre of this film as the characters are minimal on number and those that we do see are so trapped in their own world that it’s no wonder that Kat is drawn to the darkness that surrounds us all and bows to the whims of a being that lurks beyond our own existence.
Perkins first attempt in the directors chair certainly impresses and it will be interesting to see what he does next as his vision feels like a strong one and for that he’s made a fan from this writer.
- Paul Farrell