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The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Blu-ray Review)

Here’s a nifty little thriller that places emphasis on dread and atmosphere over obvious scares. The Blackcoat’s Daughter has been making its way through film festivals for the better part of two years, with the title of February. This past February, the re-titled film finally hit theaters and VOD with unfortunately little fanfare (though Why So Blu’s Jason Coleman shared some thoughts). That’s a shame, as this directorial debut from director Oz Perkins (son of Psycho’s Anthony Perkins) does the job and left a memorable impression on me, or at least enough for me to keep an eye on Perkins.

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Film:

The film’s plot involves two teenagers stuck at a Catholic boarding school during a winter break. Kat (Kiernan Shipka) is a shy, introvert and aspiring musician. Rose (Lucy Boynton) is outgoing but sensitive to certain things. Both are expecting their parents to arrive at some point, but life (or something more nefarious) is getting in the way. Meanwhile, Joan (Emma Roberts) is on her journey to get back to the boarding school and seems to be harboring a secret.

I’ll leave it there because the film gains a lot from not knowing where things are going. The challenge for the filmmaker is embracing the fact that there is not a whole lot of story and once certain aspects reveal themselves, a viewer can somewhat determine where things are headed. Now, I wouldn’t call the film predictable necessarily, just familiar. Fortunately, The Blackcoat’s Daughter is incredibly well-made and acted.

Despite falling into different sub-genres of horror, The Blackcoat’s Daughter reminded me a lot of The Strangers, so it wasn’t to my surprise that Perkins’ film was produced by Strangers’ director Bryan Bertino. I note this because the familiar story elements are aided very well by the overall look and feel of the film. Between the chilling cinematography by Julie Kirkwood and the unique score by Elvis Perkins, there is so much The Blackcoat’s Daughter has to offer as a stylish exercise that I couldn’t help but think of similar recent efforts such as It Follows.

But that’s not all. Without spoiling too much, there is a malicious force at work to some degree, and while it inspires panic for certain characters (I should note character actors James Remar and Lauren Holly make an appearance), it also pushes some other thematic material. A sense of isolation is already in play as the film opens and that continues to play a role that should no doubt allow others to think of another A24 horror release, The Witch.

The strong performances help. Shipka showed me plenty of talent during her time on Mad Men, where she frequently acted well against Jon Hamm and outshined January Jones. She’s great in playing a number of dimensions that are needed for the part. Boynton (as an American version of her Sing Street character), also has plenty to do, but can easily be summed up by her entrance into the film. And then there’s Roberts, whose tangential connection to the film allows her to be something oddly familiar, but different at the same time. It all factors in well, as the film finds focus and delivers in its execution.

I liked The Blackcoat’s Daughter for all the ways it managed to intrigue me through its filmmaking. It’s moody and stylish in a way that should work for horror fans. The pace is deliberate, but the film knows how to deliver a few tricks thanks to confident direction and the performances. This may be a little film, but it’s one to look for.

 

Video:

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: While the film’s story may be fairly simple, despite some narrative trickery and what have you, it does look great on Blu-ray. There is a level of clarity that benefits the film and how it utilizes space. Shots of this boarding school can be quite foreboding at times thanks to the wide looks, as well as the more closed off scenes. Roberts’ portion of the film also opens things up, while continuing to show off a strong level of detail.

Depth: The film’s staging is quite strong and plays well for the dimensionality aspect as far as this Blu-ray is concerned. There is solid spacing to see here, which does enough to provide a good representation of the foreground/background camera movements.

Black Levels: The black levels are very strong and deep. Since a sense of darkness plays a heavy role in certain sequences, seeing scenes taking place both indoors and outdoors allows this Blu-ray to show off the quality of these levels, with no sign of crush.

Color Reproduction: While a very wintery film, the interiors and character clothing choices make for a film that provides a good sense of color. This may be a subdued film regarding the color palette, but the colors do pop when seen.

Flesh Tones: We get a lot of strong close-ups, and that is just fine as far as seeing strong facial textures. Skin tones are natural and warm, allowing for plenty of detail to shine on this transfer.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

 

Audio:

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: This lossless track does a wonderful job of letting an audience hear the film’s wonderful score, the reserved moments of characters speaking and the general atmosphere of the film. Some great moments that help build a level of dread come through nicely here, and when things get loud, the Blu-ray supports it well.

Low Frequency Extension: Some soundtrack choices allow for the LFE channel to do what it needs to.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a front and center-channel focused track, but the film does find enough in the score and ambient elements to fill out the surround element afforded by this solid audio track.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is heard clearly throughout.

 

Extras:

I was not expecting much for a smaller film like this, but you do get a solid commentary track to go with the standard EPK.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Oz Perkins – Perkins is a bit dry, but is excited to do his first audio commentary and does offer a wealth of information about shooting the film, influences and more.
  • The Dead Of Winter: Making The Blackcoat’s Daughter (HD, 6:56) – A standard Q&A session with the cast and crew.
  • Trailers (HD)
  • DVD Copy of the Film
  • Digital HD UltraViolet Copy of the Film

 

Summary:

I was happy to check this film out, as The Blackcoat’s Daughter manages to work well for a horror debut with style to spare. The Blu-ray does the film justice with great audio and video transfers. Extras only amount to so much, but this is a fine package for horror fans to pick up.

 

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

3 Responses to “The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Jason Coleman

    Great review and dissection – so glad you dug it!

  2. Ralph

    I am very interested in this movie and especially this Blu-ray. Can you confirm that the disc is really Code A? You can not rely what code is stated on the package; sometimes they say it is Code A to prevent purchases from outside the US and the disc itself is codefree and can be played worldwide. Could you test this, please? That would be very helpful!

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Hi Ralph, thank you for reading and the question. Unfortunately, this Blu-ray is Region A locked. I do hope you are able to find a version of this Blu-ray or the film that will play.