The Blackcoat's Daughter
|The Blackcoat's Daughter|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Osgood Perkins|
|Written by||Osgood Perkins|
|Music by||Elvis Perkins|
|Edited by||Brian Ufberg|
The Blackcoat's Daughter (also known as February) is a 2015 supernatural psychological horror film written and directed by Osgood Perkins. The film stars Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, Lauren Holly, and James Remar. Over their winter break, two Catholic schoolgirls get left behind at their boarding school at which the nuns are rumored to be satanists.
The film premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival before it was released through video-on-demand on February 16, 2017, by DirecTV Cinema, and was released theatrically in the United States on March 31, 2017, by A24. The film received positive reviews from critics, with particular praise for the cast's performance.
- Note: The film presents these events in non-chronological order. The following synopsis is presented chronologically.
In February, students at the prestigious Catholic Bramford Academy in upstate New York are preparing to be picked up by their parents for a week-long break. The majority of the students depart, but Kat, a freshman, and Rose, an older student, are left behind when neither of their parents arrive to pick them up. Rose suspects she may be pregnant, and deliberately mistold her parents the vacation date to bide time.
That night, Kat and Rose are left alone in the school by two nuns. Trying to unnerve her, Rose tells Kat a story about the nuns at the school being "devil worshippers" before leaving to go out with her with her boyfriend. When Rose returns later that night, she hears strange noises coming from the school's boiler room. She goes to investigate, and witnesses Kat repeatedly prostrating in front of the lit boiler. Later on, Kat claims to Rose that her parents are dead, which disturbs her.
The following morning, Rose and Kat have breakfast with the two nuns at the sisters' residence on the campus. Kat begins acting strangely and is unable to pray. When one of the nuns scolds her, she vomits. Her behavior becomes increasingly bizarre, and the nuns find themselves unable to nurse her. Mr. Gordon, the headmaster, implies in a phone conversation with the nuns that Kat's parents have died in a car crash, and tells them he is en route to the academy. Rose, meanwhile, returns to her dormitory being locked out of the sisters' house. Before Mr. Gordon arrives, Kat receives a phone call from a gravelly voice she identifies as "dad," which tells her her parents are not coming and to kill everyone.
In the academy dormitory, Kat brutally stabs the nuns to death before decapitating them and placing their severed heads in pillowcases. Shortly after, Rose goes to use the bathroom, and is relieved to have started her period. She then goes to investigate a noise and witnesses the two bloody heads lying in the stairwell. She is then confronted by Kat, who stabs her to death, also decapitating her. Later, Mr. Gordon arrives with a police officer, there to inform Kat of her parents' deaths. The officer finds Kat in the boiler room, kneeling in front of the boiler and surrounded by the heads of her three victims. She stands and begins to yell "Hail Satan!" When she fails to drop the knife, the officer shoots her in the shoulder. Later, Father Brien visits Kat in the psychiatric ward and performs an exorcism. Kat sees a shadowed, demonic figure; she asks it to stay with her, but it disappears.
Nine years later, Kat, using a stolen identification of a woman named Joan, arrives at a bus station after escaping a psychiatric institution. A man, Bill, notices her waiting outside the station and offers her a ride, much to the chagrin of his wife, Linda. Later the three stay at a hotel, where Bill tells Joan/Kat she reminds him of his deceased daughter, and that this is why he offered her a ride. He subsequently shows her a photo of his daughter, and it is Rose.
Later, while driving, Bill and Linda argue about Rose's brutal murder, unaware that "Joan" is her killer. Kat notices they are approaching the now-abandoned Bramford Academy, and asks Bill to stop the car, claiming she feels sick. He abides, and parks on the side of the road near the academy, much to Linda's dismay. Kat proceeds to slash Bill's throat before frenziedly stabbing Linda through the car seat multiple times. She then decapitates them, placing their heads in her suitcase, and carries them into the shuttered academy. She enters the boiler room with the suitcase, only to find the boiler dark and cold. She exits the school and looks back at it before sobbing.
- Emma Roberts as Joan, an asylum escapee traveling with Bill and Linda.
- Kiernan Shipka as Katherine, an awkward and creepy freshman who is being haunted by a dark spirit while she is at school with Rose.
- Lucy Boynton as Rose, a daring young woman in her senior year of high school who fears she might be pregnant. She is joined by Kat during the winter break while they are stuck at school.
- Lauren Holly as Linda, Rose's mother and Bill's wife who dislikes Joan.
- James Remar as Bill, Rose's father, a kind man who is married to Linda and is showing kindness to Joan through driving her to her destination.
- Greg Ellwand as Father Brian, the head of the boarding school.
- Elena Krausz as Ms. Prescott, a teacher at the boarding school.
- Heather Tod Mitchell as Ms. Drake, a teacher at the boarding school.
- Peter James Haworth as Mr. Gordon, a teacher at the boarding school.
- Peter Gray as Rick, Rose's boyfriend.
- Emma Holzer as Lizzy, Rose's friend who finds out first that Rose might be pregnant.
Although the film only received a wide release after I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, The Blackcoat's Daughter was actually filmed first, making it Perkins' debut film. With the story Perkins intended to "tell a sad story" about loss. He used the horror genre, specifically the possession subgenre, as a "Trojan Horse". Although Perkins noted that he could have still made the film without this angle, it would have resulted in the audience's engagement in the story being different. Financing the film was particularly difficult, which Perkins has attributed to the "slumping" success of the horror genre at the time; although the film's script was completed in 2012, filming did not start until 2015. Many of those to whom Perkins showed the script were enthusiastic about it, but believed that it would not be possible to make. The casting of Kiernan Shipka and Emma Roberts was announced in April 2014. In February 2015, Lucy Boynton, Lauren Holly, and James Remar joined the cast.
Principal photography for the film began in February 2015 in Kemptville, Ontario, Canada. The film's soundtrack was scored by Perkin's brother, Elvis Perkins, a singer-songwriter. Prior to this, Elvis had never written a film score before, and found the medium confining, with Oz noting that the restrictions "almost killed him".
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2015. Shortly after, A24 Films and DirecTV Cinema acquired US distribution rights to the film. The Canadian distribution rights were then acquired by ABMO Films. The film had its US premiere at the Fantastic Fest on September 24, 2015. In November 2015, it was announced that the film had sold to various international territories at the AFM, including the United Kingdom, France, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Poland, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Middle East. The film was retitled from February to The Blackcoat's Daughter. The film was scheduled to be released DirecTV Cinema on July 14, 2016. But was pushed back to August 25, 2016, before opening in a limited release on September 30. The film was then pulled from the schedule and pushed back to an undisclosed 2017 date. It was released on February 16, 2017, through DirecTV Cinema, before being released on March 31, 2017, in a limited release and through video on demand by A24. On Netflix UK, it was released under the title February.
The Blackcoat's Daughter received generally positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 72%, based on 54 reviews, with an average score of 6.2/10. The site's consensus reads, "Slow-building and atmospheric, The Blackcoat's Daughter resists girls-in-peril clichés in a supernatural thriller that serves as a strong calling card for debuting writer-director Oz Perkins." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 68 out of 100, based on 17 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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