This gruesome horror thriller The Blackcoat’s Daughter has more suspense than most and that’s a good thing for those that like to try and figure things out before they happen. But, you’ll have a tough time figuring this chiller out as Director and Writer Osgood Perkins knows how to set up a story without giving it all away. Dark and sinister the acting crew works their magic with performances that are chilling, daemonic and entrancing. Great for men, but better for the ladies, it’s a ladies night out for those that like a grisly shocker.
It’s the last day before spring break at the rural New York all-girls Bramford Religious Prep School. Everyone can’t wait to vacate the premises for a week and put school behind them. That is except for two teens that are in a quandary about meeting up with their parents. A freshman Kat (Kiernan Shipka) has not heard from her parents and Headmaster Gordon reminds her that due to rules she cannot stay at the school alone.
In the same boat, senior Rose (Lucy Boynton) has lied about her parents picking her up as a problem between her and a local boy has her worried that she may be pregnant. She wants to stay behind and deal with it on her own. The Headmaster has too much on his mind to work out a solution so he asks Rose to watch Kat until either of their parents show up. With the dorms vacated the girls find themselves alone with each other and at odds for the reasons they stayed behind.
Director Perkins moves his story along with the two teens alone in the large vacated dorm and getting into each other’s business. Sometimes taunting each other the suspense grows to a damning point that has the two on edge. Inserting their past into the film with flashbacks, Perkins provides a much needed back story so we get a feel as to the reasons Kat and Rose were sent to the school.
Personalities are drawn and we find that there may even be something sinister about the two. Perkins deepens the suspense when he adds Joan (Emma Roberts), a third teen, to the mix and a couple Bill (James Remar) and Linda (Lauren Holly) that are traveling to Bramford. As they progress things get interesting and mind games blossom. I’s a juicy guessing game that never gets resolved until the gut wrenching gruesome finale.
The acting makes the film work with three brilliantly coached actresses that a molded into very interesting, yet vile, characters that give meaning to the word horror. Taking on Kat the mysterious student that feels she hasn’t been picked up is because her parents must be dead, Kiernan Shipka shows how creepy the young girl can be. You may know her as Sally Draper in TV’s “Mad Men” for all 89 episodes where she enhanced her career earning the co-lead in The Blackcoat’s Daughter. Kat has to be strange and Shipka takes her from coy to crazy.
Co-lead Lucy Boynton finds the right personality for Rose who has to deal with the unstrung Kat while fearing she may be pregnant. She’s the dominant one, or so she thinks. She recently appeared in Sing Street as Raphina and this film was a good stepping stone for her.
Also in the mix is Emma Roberts who plays Joan the runaway who meets up with a couple on their where to Bramford School. Joan’s a bit of a naive weird case traveling alone and allowing strangers to pick her up at a bus station where for her lack of money abruptly ended her travel plans. Roberts recently had a run on TV’s “Scream Queens” as Chanel Oberlin and on the big screen as Vee in Nerve.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter has been rated R by the MPAA for brutal bloody violence and brief strong language. The violence gets vicious when heads start to roll.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good horror flick with a “twisted” finale.
Additional Film Information:
Cast: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, James Remar, Lauren Holly, Greg Ellwand, Elana Krausz, Heather Tod Mitchell, Peter James Haworth.
Directed and written by: Osgood Perkins
Genre: Horror, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R for brutal bloody violence and brief strong language
Running Time: 1 hr. 34 min.
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Distributed by: A24