Thursday, March 30, 2017

A mostly subdued helping of horror

Here's a horror movie with an intriguing pedigree: The Blackcoat's Daughter was directed by Osgood Perkins, son of Anthony Perkins, an actor who's still most remembered for his indelible performance as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. In addition, the film's music was written by Elvis Perkins, Osgood's brother and another of Anthony Perkins' children. Pedigree aside, Perkins' film stands as its own helping of quietly engineered horror. Blackcoat's Daughter focuses on two girls (Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton) who remain at their private Catholic school during a break in which the other students have headed home. Shipka's character is the weirder of the two, a girl with a spooky affect and a look of eerie determination. (You may recognize Shipka as the girl who played Don Draper's often sullen daughter on Mad Men.) Boynton's Rose seems more normal, although she's grappling with a difficult issue: She's pregnant. Later, we meed Joan (Emma Roberts), a young woman who escapes from a mental institution and is given a ride by a married couple (James Remar and Lauren Holly) who are heading toward the school. The movie's brooding score and its somber, snow-covered images leave little doubt that something awful will happen before the film concludes. It takes time for the inevitable violence to arrive, but that's part of what makes the film effective. No sense over-praising Perkins' debut accomplishment, but this small hunk of horror shows more than enough promise to make us look forward to his next outing.

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