Ho-ho-horror, everyone! M.L. Miller aka the @$$hole formerly known as Ambush Bug here. Continuing the countdown fun, I’ve decided to finally compile a list of the Best Holiday Horror Movies this December. Some of these films can be found in theaters, but others have unfortunately only seen the light of day on Video On Demand or simply go straight to DVD, BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews where you can check these films out as thoroughly as I can.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, there’s no real method to my special brand of madness. Having seen quite a few holiday horrors, I simply have been keeping a list and checking it more than twice throughout the year. I’ll be counting down every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through December to my favorite holiday horror film of the year. I’m sure there are some that I’ve missed, overlooked, or simply haven’t seen yet, but that will leave leftovers to cover in upcoming Decembers
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own damn list…let’s go!
#9 THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER #9
Why is THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER #9? Any chance to triumph this moody little art house shocker. And while purists will note the lack of Christmas cheer, the film does take place over the holiday break at an all-girls school and the weather outside is surely frightful in Oz Perkins’ haunting and patient little murder/mystery/descension into madness flick. Stunning performances and an eye for making things ultra-creepy, Perkins is turning out to be a filmmaker I’m going to be keeping a close eye on. His two offerings released this year were tops and if you liked I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE, you’re going to love this one. You can find it here on Amazon here and on DVD/BluRay here!
Available on Direct TV and digital download from A24 Films!
THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER (2015)
Directed by Oz Perkins
Written by Oz Perkins
Starring Emma Roberts, Lucy Boynton, Kiernan Shipka, Lauren Holly, James Remar, Emma Holzer, Peter J. Gray, Jodi Larratt, Matthew Stefiuk, Douglas Kidd, Heather Tod Mitchell, Cameron Preyde, Rose Gagnon
Find out more about this film here, @TheBlackcoatsDaughter, and on Facebook here
While I know THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER is not going to be the type of horror film everyone is going to be getting behind, it definitely is the type of horror film I like. If you like slow-burning, unsettling little films that make you feel weird even though you can’t exactly put your finger on exactly why; THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER is going to be for you. I guess a true test would be if you liked Oz Perkins last film, the Netflix ghost story I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE, you’re most likely going to be able to make it through this one and most likely will like it as much as I did.
The film opens ominously with a young girl leaving her home and setting off to go to an all-girl private school. The girl, Kat (Kiernan Shipka), is then seen talking with her counselor about a performance she is about to do for the entire school and how disappointed she is because he won’t be there. While the conversation seems innocent enough, the way it all plays out feels utterly unsettling. Enter one of Kat’s schoolmates, the elder classmate Rose (Lucy Boynton) who is having problems of her own with her boyfriend involving a missed period (and we aren’t talking about classes). Both Kat and Rose seem to be stuck on the school grounds during winter break as both their parents have failed to pick them up for the break. This leaves the school counselor to ask Rose to look over Kat and though she doesn’t intend to, she reluctantly agrees to make the counselor happy. This leaves Kat and Rose alone in the school together with Rose trying to scare Kat with stories about the school headmistresses being in a cult and Kat acting absolutely batshit crazy and paranoid whenever Rose leaves her alone. Meanwhile, a girl named Joan (Emma Roberts) is trying to make her way to the school by foot and hitches a ride with a couple (James Remar and Lauren Holly), not knowing that there is something underhanded and evil going on there as well. Both stories intersect, though you aren’t aware that they do until it’s too late.
THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER formerly known as FEBRUARY in the festival circuit, was actually made before I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE, though was released afterwards. Both films excel in enveloping the viewer in a paranoid, indefinable discomfort from beginning to end. Both are tales where you trust nothing at face value and culminate in a potent, yet quiet climax that resonates long after the credits roll. THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER in particular is effective in immediately tossing you into the darkness as Shipka is utterly hypnotizing as the seemingly innocent, but undeniably off Kat. The stilted and subtle way she interacts with people is creepy because you can’t exactly put a finger on why she is so creepy. Her later actions seal the deal in why we have this foreboding sense of horror whenever she’s on screen, but from the first moment, there is dread in droves.
On top of Shipka’s haunting performance, the other actresses in THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER are awesome as well. Boynton’s Rose has her secrets as well and while she comes off as the typical school bully picking on an under-classmate, this isn’t all there is to her. Whether she knows it or not, she’s in danger dealing with Kat and the fun lays in the fact that she believes she has the upper hand all the way through. Emma Roberts’ Joan is another nuanced character, seemingly innocent and fragile, but carrying her own dark secrets. As evidenced here and in I AM THE PRETTY THING, Perkins is gifted in telling nuanced stories with female characters.
But if you’re looking for flashy effects, jarring jump scares, and horrors rehashed for the ga-billionth time, look everywhere but this film. THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER is a tale of human darkness that will leave a dark stain on your soul if you let it in. It’s subversive. It’s patient, quiet, and creeping. The type of stuff that creeps into nightmares rather than jolts you out of them. Perkins is a filmmaker to watch with this one two punch of I AM THE PRETTY THING and THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER. I can’t wait to see what he does next. Fans of subtle, lingering, skin-crawlingly potent horror drenched in mood, atmosphere and dread like last year’s THE WITCH are going to find a lot of the same elements in THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER.
If you like what I said above, help me out and click on the link to buy it on Amazon here!!!
THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…
#13 – THE HORROR NETWORK V.1 “Merry Little Christmas” segment
#12 – STALLED
#11 – CUENTO DE NAVIDAD
#10 – A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY
#9 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
M.L. Miller goes by many names—Ambush Bug, Mark L. Miller, hey you jerk over there! He’s an original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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