3 Girls, 1 Demon
The Blackcoat’s Daughter revolves around three girls, Kat, Rose, and Joan, from youngest to oldest. Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton) are students at Branford, an all-girls Catholic boarding school. Kat is a freshman while Rose is a senior.
The movie is set at the end of the current term, and the students are preparing for the mandatory break. Kat and Rose are left at the school in the care of the nuns since both students’ parents haven’t arrived to fetch them.
At night, Rose sneaks out of the school to meet her boyfriend, not before telling Kat a story to frighten her: that the nuns taking care of them worship the devil. When Rose gets back to the school, she sees Kat kneeling and bowing before the fire contained in the basement boiler.
While all of this happening, in an unknown location, Joan (Emma Roberts) gets off a bus and heads to a public bathroom to clean herself. While waiting outside for the next bus, obviously freezing due to the cold winter, a man, Bill, takes pity on her and offers her a ride. Bill and his wife are headed to Branford.
The Atmosphere. A feeling of dread envelops everything. The film is very consistent in its mood, right down to the choice of season (winter), the monotonous color palette ala David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and the complete lack of humor.
The Leads. Shirpa, Boynton, and Roberts are all fantastic leads. Major props go to Kiernan Shirpa who was able to portray Kat’s transformation convincingly. Boynton is also very captivating; the juxtaposition of her classic beauty to Rose’s hardy attitude brought a lot to the movie. It’s the second time I’ve seen in her in a movie, the first being last year’s Sing Street. She is surely someone to watch out for in the future. Roberts has a relatively smaller share of the limelight as compared to the other two. She doesn’t have a lot of dialog, yet she is able to say a lot with her eyes. The gritty Joan is surely a very different character from Madison Montgomery.
The Buildup. The movie surely takes its time to develop the characters of Kat and Rose before all hell breaks loose. The use of music to amp up the scare factor is also effective. One particular scene that demonstrates this is when Rose gets back from her date with the boyfriend and tries to look for Kat.
The Ambiguity. The intentions of the other characters in the movie are very difficult to read. Is the headmaster aware of all of these things? Are the nuns really devil worshippers? Why is Bill so nice? The way that these characters are portrayed makes it difficult to see if they’re actually good or bad, and this adds to the mystery.
The Twist. All I can say about the twist is that I saw it coming miles away, which lessened its impact. I wish the twist were less obvious, but I’m not sure how they would be able to do that.
The Ending. The last scene made me think, ‘Is this it?’ This is very much related to the twist. All I’m saying is that the ending left me a bit cold.
Should You Watch It?
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is an effective horror flick. It leaves a lot of questions open, which I’m not particularly against, since it adds to the mystery. The horror of the movie is certainly not the of the jump scare type, it’s a slower and more creeping and cerebral type of horror.
The movie is definitely a watch for its atmosphere, not so much for its story. And to think, it’s the debut film of Oz Perkins. Surely, Oz should be in everyone’s radar after The Blackcoat’s Daughter.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter currently sits at 74% on Rotten Tomatoes.