The Blackcoat’s Daughter

As far as having a family legacy in horror goes, being the son of Psycho star Anthony Perkins is a pretty solid legacy. It could also be pretty daunting, overcoming that legacy to make a name for one’s self. But writer/director Oz Perkins has managed to do that with both The Blackcoat’s Daughter, his debut feature, and follow-up I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, which (thanks to the quirks of studio release dates) technically saw release first. Between the two films, Perkins has shown a remarkable ability to create a simmering sense of dread.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter takes place at a religious boarding school for girls, where most of the students have gone home for a holiday. A couple of students remain, though: Rose (Lucy Boynton), an older girl who thinks she might be pregnant, and Kat (Kiernan Shipka), a freshman. The two girls wait for their parents, who are supposed to come a day later. What they don’t know is that Kat’s parents aren’t coming, and Kat is exposed to a dark path forward in life. Meanwhile, Joan (Emma Roberts) finds herself heading towards the same town, getting a ride from a pair of Good Samaritans.

In terms of plot, there’s not a lot more to the setup. But Perkins manages to take a minimal plot structure and absolutely drench it in dread. The storyline is shown non-chronologically, with events being shown multiple times from different angles, with different emphases on moments. The performances from the cast are also stellar across the board, particularly Shipka’s slightly off presence. She sells the idea that even before the events of the film, something was probably a little off with Kat.

For those who have already seen I Am the Pretty Thing… on Netflix, The Blackcoat’s Daughter isn’t quite as distinctive as that feature. It has more in common with another release from A24, The Witch, than that film. Like both films, this one requires some patience, and it ultimately rewards that patience with some truly intense moments. Without getting into more detail, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is worth seeing.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter • Rating: R (for brutal bloody violence and brief strong language) • Runtime: 95 minutes • Genre: Horror • Cast: Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, James Remar, Lauren Holly • Director: Osgood Perkins • Writer: Osgood Perkins • Distributor: A24
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