It's Been A Long Wait, But 'The Blackcoat's Daughter' Lives Up To The Hype

By James Jay Edwards
Released: March 31, 2017
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Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.

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Film Review
It's been a couple of years since February, the creepy thriller from writer/director Oz Perkins (son of the legendary Anthony Perkins), began getting rave reviews from critics and festival goers alike. The film was snatched up by indie superheroes A24...then promptly put into a seemingly endless distribution process. Perkins all but moved on, writing and directing the straight-to-Netflix spookfest I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House and writing the proto-slasher The Girl in the Photographs, but horror fans didn't. Finally, after months of rumors and a title change to The Blackcoat's Daughter, Perkins' directorial debut is getting a real release.

The Blackcoat's Daughter is about a girl named Kat (Kiernan Shipka from Carriers) whose parents fail to pick her up from her Catholic boarding school for winter break. Another girl named Rose (Sing Street's Lucy Boynton), who is also left at the school because she purposely gave her parents the wrong date so that she could spend more time with her boyfriend, is asked to keep an eye on Kat until her parents show. The uncomfortable situation is made even more so when Rose ends up scaring Kat with tales of rumored behind-the-scenes Devil worship at the school by the nuns.

Emma Roberts in The Blackcoat's Daughter. Photo by Petr Maur, courtesy of A24.

Meanwhile, another girl named Joan (Nerve's Emma Roberts) with a mysterious past is travelling through upstate New York, either riding on buses or hitching rides to get to - or away from - somewhere or something. She is picked up by a middle aged couple named Bill and Linda (James Remar from "Dexter" and Lauren Holly from "NCIS," respectively), who get more than they bargained for by giving the girl a lift.

Despite how it feels, The Blackcoat's Daughter is not an anthology or episodic movie. There are two different and distinct stories, but they do just takes a while for that connection to be revealed to the viewer. The story unfolds slowly - painfully so at times - with the audience just begging to learn how it will all come together. And it doesn't disappoint when it does.

Lucy Boynton in The Blackcoat's Daughter. Photo by Petr Maur, courtesy of A24.

The Blackcoat's Daughter is a tough movie. Not to watch, but to process and analyze. It is equal parts supernatural thriller, possession movie, and slasher flick, all coexisting under the guise of being a road mystery. It's a dark and sinister movie, and it does get a bit confusing at times, but patience is rewarded, as the little hints and clues pay off big time in the end.

The buzz around The Blackcoat's Daughter (or February, if you'd rather call it that) has been palpable, and it feels as if horror fans have been waiting forever for the film to hit general release. Now that it's here for all to enjoy, none of those fans will be disappointed. It lives up to the hype, and it is well worth the wait.
Sound designer Allan Fung, who did sound for Mama and Pay the Ghost as well as some of the middle Saw movies, earns his paycheck with The Blackcoat's Daughter. Dialogue in the film is sparse, so the sound design is right up-front. During the road scenes with Joan and the couple, the natural sounds of the car are amplified and emphasized so that the viewer's ears filled with the rhythmic clicking of turn signals and the soft crush of tires on snowy gravel. Similarly yet conversely, the halls of the school are deafeningly quiet, so much so that the smallest noises, like footsteps or door creaks, roar with life.

Emma Roberts and James Remar in The Blackcoat's Daughter. Photo by Petr Maur, courtesy of A24.

And then there's the music. Composed by folk rock musician Elvis Perkins (director Oz's brother), the score is actually more like sound design itself rather than music; it's atonal and abrasive, full of dissonant violins and synthetic noise. When it unleashes, the soundtrack is overpowering, the effects and music coming together in a wave that washes over the audience, drenching them in a sea of flange and echo. It's been said that sound is half of the movie. In the case of The Blackcoat's Daughter, it may be even more.
Scary Factor
Although it's plenty disturbing, The Blackcoat's Daughter isn't scary in the traditional horror movie sense. There are a handful of jump scares, but the fear derived from the film is more of an overwhelming sense of dread. The movie is the very definition of slow-burn, a total creep fest, built more on atmosphere than events, so the sudden and shocking moments in the film are that much more effective when they do come up. The Blackcoat's Daughter doesn't have many scream out loud moments, but its images and ideas will follow you home and creep into your nightmares.

Kiernan Shipka in The Blackcoat's Daughter. Photo by Petr Maur, courtesy of A24.

A24 and DirecTV will release THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER in theaters and On Demand March 31, 2017.

Horror, Thriller
Release Date
March 31, 2017
MPAA Rating
Production Designer
Casting Director
Music Score