• Review: The Blackcoat's Daughter (2017)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Wed Mar 29 12:28:58 2017
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: Mysterious goings-on go on at an all-girl
    Catholic school over winter break. The film is shot
    with an excess of style that got in the way of the
    coherence. The freezing setting of upstate New York
    reaches into the tone of the entire film and even the
    spirit of the viewer. The ambience is certainly
    creepy, but the story seems to take forever to get to
    where it is going and too much is obscured by unclear
    voices and darkly photographed, often rear-lit, scenes.
    The film is written and directed by Oz Perkins who went
    on to write and direct the similarly indistinct I AM
    low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

    Watching this film is like stepping into a large freezer. In cold
    and icy upstate New York is Bramford, a prestigious Catholic school
    for girls. The school is decorated in a color scheme of metallic
    blue and gray, symbolizing complete rejection anything warm and
    human. Director (and writer) Oz Perkins clearly wants to take even
    more humanity from its characters and show them as silhouettes
    against the blue light coming off the fields of snow outside.
    Sadly, this makes the main characters look too similar and even
    with a small cast it is hard for the viewer to keep track who each
    one is.

    It is the beginning of the February winter break. (In fact, the
    film was originally titled FEBRUARY.) The parents should have
    collected the girls to take home. At least that was the plan.
    Rose (played by Lucy Boynton) and Kat (Kiernan Shipka) were not
    picked up and the headmaster of the school has to make special
    arrangement for them to stay in the building. A third girl, Joan
    (Emma Roberts) ends sitting at a bus stop late at night. We do not
    know how she fits in or why. We do know that Rose has arranged to
    miss winter break so she will not have to face her parents and tell
    them that she and her boyfriend have on the way a little problem

    That is still early in the movie and there is a lot more to go
    before the horror of the film kicks in. Director Perkins knows how
    to shoot his scenes to build tension. Oddly, we know not why this
    part of the story has us on edge, but it foreshadows what is to
    come. Still we may not be sure who, if anyone, will be menacing
    whom. When the violence occurs--and yes, it is coming--it is kept
    out of sight of the camera. There is no gore distastefully shaken
    in the face of the viewer.

    The photography is good, but it is at odds with the story telling.
    It is hard to tell the school girls apart in half-light. It is
    even hard to tell a blonde from a girl with darker hair when they
    are both lit from behind. The film uses darkness and slow pacing
    much as German Expressionism did. The musical score in the main
    body of the film is mostly electronic music so it does not feel
    organic. I missed what the title referred to. THE BLACKCOAT'S
    DAUGHTER takes a long time to get where it is going, and where it
    is going is familiar territory. I rate the film a low +1 on the -4
    to +4 scale or 5/10. THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER has played at film
    festivals and was released to theaters March 31.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying: <https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_blackcoats_daughter>

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper

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