Previously titled THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER
Dir. Osgood Perkins
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Every now and then a film gets so much buzz and sizzles under the radar. Last year we had the fantastic SNOWPIERCER, a film praised by audiences across the globe but marred by distribution problems and subsequently as of 2017 has yet to be seen, legitimately, on British soil (ed - it took a whopping 3 years and an Oscar win before it had mass release and even then was superseded by a Netflix TV series). For other films, a straight of DVD release or VoD if it’s not expecting to be received very well. This is where THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER has been cruelly treated. Having successfully pleased critics on the festival circuit back in 2015, the film is only now (ed - February 2017) receiving its due credit with a host of terrifyingly cryptic trailers ahead of its 31st March release date in the states.
So surprising to see that a browse through Netflix comes a film under the title of FEBRUARY starring Emma Roberts and (a pre-Sabrina) Kiernan Shipka and directed by one Osgood Perkins, a connection to the newly advertised film, surely this cannot be. But yet it is, FEBRUARY is the film’s original title and yes, this has been released straight to Netflix in the UK so for once we indulge in the joys that we get the film first.
Shipka stars as Kat, a young girl who is kept in a boarding school with Rose (Lucy Boynton) after their parents fail to pick them up for the winter break. During their stay, the pair immerse themselves in what the school has to offer and as one expands her passion for boys, the other chooses are more sinister sin. It is only when a new girl (Emma Roberts) arrives to the school that the entanglement between the three gets tighter and more vicious.
THE EXORCIST meets THE WITCH in a film that is terrifyingly chilling. As the coldness of winter sets the scene, the ice cold nature of this small town school transcends across its inhabitants to some rather grisly results. FEBRUARY is a slow burner but one that certainly pays off with a grim conclusion, one that clouds its characters with the same ambiguity that the audience feels.
While there appears to be very little going on in the halls of the Canadian school, every scene is magnetic to watch and the build-up of mystery that surrounds the girls is intriguing to disentangle. This is not a nice film and fans of OLDBOY and eastern cinema will engage with the films tone and sentimentalities as the stories of the three girls come to fruition.
Much like THE WITCH, the fear factor of Oz Perkin’s masterpiece (yes, these are strong well deserved words) is one that buries under the surface only to reveal its true evil after the credits have stopped rolling. A film that continues in your mind after the final scene is a film that lives forever and FEBRUARY is such a film.