M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on February 16, 2017! Streaming on Netflix!

THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER (2015)

aka FEBRUARY
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 will get 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 (which appeared earlier in this countdown—woo! Oz had quite a year in 2017!), you 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 its 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.

Click here for the trailer!


THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!


#13 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
#14 – THE SIMILARS
#15 – HOWL
#16 – SEOUL STATION
#17 – THE TRANSFIGURATION
#18 – THE GREASY STRANGLER
#19 – I AM THE PRETTY THING IN THE HOUSE
#20 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#21 – SPLIT
#22— TRASH FIRE
#23 – 47 METERS DOWN
#24 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#25 – THE SUBLET
#26 – PATCHWORK
#27 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#28 – GERALD’S GAME
#29 – LAKE BODOM
#30 – NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE
#31 – THE EVIL WITHIN


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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