By now, many horror aficionados have witnessed and basked in the quiet, eerie glory of Oz Perkin’s I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House. The film, released straight-to-Netflix last year, took just about everybody by surprise; there was seemingly no promotion for the film whatsoever. One day, it was just there. It was a true Halloween treat if I’ve ever seen one, and I became an immediate fan of Perkins.
What many don’t know, however, is that Pretty Thing is actually the director’s second film. His first, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, wrapped up filming in 2015. It took over a year until it got US distribution, and was finally shown in the States this February. Two years after the film’s completion, I’ve finally seen The Blackcoat’s Daughter – and what I’ve seen is nothing short of amazing.
The film, starring Emma Roberts, follows two girls left alone in a private school. At the same time, a mysterious girl (Roberts) is on a mission to get to the school for reasons unknown. To say any more of the plot would be spoiling it, as it is a film that holds many surprises. What I can say, however, is it deals with numerous cliches of the horror genre and turns them on their heads. This is mainly a movie about possession. Make no mistake, however; another clone of The Exorcist this is not.
Much like Pretty Thing, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is drenched in atmosphere. Yet there is a heavy amount of contrast between the two films. Whereas Pretty Thing is ethereal and hauntingly beautiful, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is drowning in blackness and dread. Roberts’ performance here is stellar. Her character is enigmatic and intriguing, and though many may be turned off by her presence due to a dislike of her previous work in Scream Queens and American Horror Story, to think the actress’ inclusion of the film would hamper the effect is nothing short of foolish. Her performance in Perkins’ film proves that she has the chops to take on much more than fun and campy television.
Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton both give great performances as well as the two girls left in their desolate Catholic school, but their story becomes all the more compelling given the factor of Roberts’ parallel story. Why does she want to get to the school so bad? What connection, if any, does she have with these girls? And will she ever even make it to the school, or will something happen to her beforehand?
Rest assured, these questions will be answered by the end of the film. I can tell you this much, however; it’s most definitely not what you’d expect. I was certainly taken off-guard by the conclusion. It ends on a powerful and thought-provoking note – The Blackcoat’s Daughter is in no rush to spell things out for you. What this movie means and what actually occurred will take a small amount of analyzation. It’s nothing as vague as something from the mind of David Lynch, but it is incredibly smart in its effort to “show, don’t tell” nonetheless.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is now streaming on Amazon Prime. It is highly recommended. Ambient, dark, and spooky, this isn’t a film for everyone. Yet if you give it a chance, you might walk away satisfied.