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Review: A24 delivers another slow-burn winner with 'The Blackcoat's Daughter'

Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 2:51 PM Central
Last updated Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 2:52 PM Central

by John Couture

Back in 2013, a little-known company made a big splash with their first film Spring Breakers. No, it didn't set the box office world on fire, but it trumpeted the arrival of an indie film distribution company that has the potential to one day rival Miramax in its prime.

The company, of course, is A24 and what might get lost in all the hullabaloo surrounding their film Moonlight's Oscar win for Best Picture is that their time has officially arrived. I have been a huge fan of A24 from pretty much the get-go because they specialize in the bizarre and unique. Above all though, their films place a high priority on the story and character development.

The Witch. Swiss Army Man. Room. The Lobster. Ex Machina.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to A24's catalog, but there does seem to be one unifying theme through all of their films, they are films that I desperately want to see. In this post-Marvel, big budget, sequel-driven world of cinema we find ourselves in today, it is refreshing to see such unique and interesting films be given the treatment that they deserve. Looking forward, it's not surprising that two of my most anticipated films of 2017, A Ghost Story and The Disaster Artist, are both A24 films.

So, with all of this in mind, my expectations for the A24 film The Blackcoat's Daughter were pretty high when I sat down to watch it. I'm happy to say that in fine A24 fashion, the film was compelling and entertaining and a worthy addition to its eclectic collection of films.

While it would be easy to classify The Blackcoat's Daughter as just another horror/psychological thriller, there's something about the film that resonates with you long after the credits roll. In many ways, I liken it to another A24 film The Witch in that they are both non-traditional horror films but their slow-burning pace ratchets up the suspense to a point where the climax is both unsettling and fulfilling.

The Blackcoat's Daughter employs a split-narrative approach that is both interesting and frustrating at times, but as the film unfolds, it becomes quite apparent for the decision to use this technique. Trust me, the payout is worth it.

While Emma Roberts unleashes another top-notch performance, the real star of the film is the young Kiernan Shipka. I was never a fan of Mad Men, so I'm late to the Kiernan Shipka party, but her name is one that is only going to become more widely known as she continues to stack her resume. The Blackcoat's Daughter, she plays the young Kat who is left convinced that her parents are dead when they fail to show up to pick her up at her school when winter break begins.

The film is a both a study in the horror of traumatizing events and the inherent nature of evil. There's a good discourse over the course of the film as to the conspiring factors that create a sociopath and at the end, the film gives you plenty of space to draw your own conclusions. Again, the film doesn't follow the tradition horror route of jump-scare moments, but the terror is more sublime that is quickly coming back in vogue lately as we just witnessed in Get Out.

If you enjoy films that slowly build the tension and then reward the journey with an interesting and thought-provoking finale, then I would definitely recommend The Blackcoat's Daughter. Like many of the A24 films that came before it, it is a film that just begs you to devour it one frame at a time and it certainly doesn't disappoint.

The Blackcoat's Daughter is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.