HORROR MOVIE NOT SCARY
Film Review by Fiore
As horror films go, THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER attempts to be artistic. Its endeavors result in ninety percent of the movie featuring opening doors, which sound like cannons, and deer in the headlight stares from the principle actors. Somewhere buried between the elongated sequences, there is a decent horror tale, but it becomes muddled in a labyrinth of artistic devices intended to give gravitas to a movie that doesn’t need it.
One of the artistic failures is the Quentin Tarantino like shifting of the time space continuum. THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER tells two different stories, one current, one nine years in the past, without alerting the viewer. Whereas Tarantino presented his PULP FICTION narrative as individual vignettes, THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER presents its tale as a developing timeline. It causes a “what the hell is going on” and “who the hell is that” atmosphere until the film’s conclusion. While some, especially those in the Toronto Film Festival who deemed THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER an outstanding indie horror film, may be impressed with this cinematic ploy, I found it distracting, manipulative and totally disrupting.
The story is a good premise for a horror film, though somewhat cliched. Two young girls are left behind during winter break at their all-girls boarding school. While most of the school’s administrators seem overly anxious to bolt the establishment, two elderly housekeepers opt to stay behind until the girl’s parents show up. A series of grisly murders occur, having a slight tangent to devil worship. Actually, not the devil, per se, but rather a fat, furry muppet with large pokey things on its head. The culprit is caught, sentenced to a looney bin and nine years later, escapes and returns to the scene of her crime to confront her demon.
Starring in the film are Kiernan Shipka, as Kat, and Lucy Boynton as Rose. The problem with both actresses is they look much older than their characters. Emma Roberts also stars as Joan, a woman with an urgent need to return to the girls boarding school where the murders occurred.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE HEADS AT THE FURNACE
THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER contains standard horror film fare: darkened hallways and rooms where no one will turn on the lights; the muppet devil; a cheesy exorcism; a Michael Myers kitchen knife; human sacrifice; a crippling snow storm; and a creepy basement with a large pot-bellied furnace. What the film doesn’t have is a clear tie in to the supernatural; obligatory nudity in an all girl’s school; a frightening demon; a protagonist; enough murders; a conclusion that makes sense of the preceding events.
THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER is directed by Osgood Perkins, who is the son of actor Anthony Perkins. Hopefully, this film allows him to try his hand again, with a larger budget. He’s in the right stadium, he just brought the wrong balls.
Described as “deeply atmospheric”, THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER is shot in poor lighting, through the wrong color filters. Guess that’s what comprises the atmosphere. It’s edited as if someone fell asleep at the cutting table while switching scenes.
THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER was originally titled FEBRUARY. Truthfully, I can’t discern a justifiable cause for either. When the American version of THE RING was released some years ago, there were actually folk who thought it was scary. These are the same latte-drinking gnomes who have never watched John Carpenter films in a dark room. Personally, I thought the movie laughable; but perhaps that same group of people will find some horror elements in THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER. I couldn’t.
Let’s take a look at the report card for THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER:
ACTING = C
CINEMATOGRAPHY = D
SOUND/MUSIC = D
EDITING = F
LIGHTING = D
SCRIPT = D
SFX = D
ACTION = D
THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER is another in an annoyingly long list of horror films that simply aren’t scary. If you want something a bit more disturbing and “deeply atmospheric”, you’re better off with THE WITCH, which was an indie horror film released earlier this year.