The Blackcoat's Daughter
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|The Blackcoat's Daughter|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Oz Perkins|
|Written by||Oz Perkins|
|Music by||Elvis Perkins|
|Edited by||Brian Ufberg|
The Blackcoat's Daughter (also known as February) is a 2015 American-Canadian supernatural psychological horror film written and directed by Oz Perkins. The film stars Emma Roberts, Lucy Boynton, Kiernan Shipka, James Remar, and Lauren Holly. The plot follows two Catholic schoolgirls who get left behind at their boarding school over winter break, where 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 theatrically released on March 31, 2017, by A24. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for the cast's performances particularly.
In February, at a prestigious Catholic boarding school in upstate New York, students are preparing to be picked up by their parents for break. Kat (Shipka), a freshman, has a dream where her father shows her the horribly smashed family car. She awakens from the dream, and marks off her calendar, looking forward to the day her parents will come. An older student, Rose (Boynton), worries she might be pregnant and intends to tell her boyfriend that night.
When both Kat and Rose's parents fail to pick them up before break, Rose confesses she told them the wrong date, but does not disclose it is because she wants to delay them until she can tell her boyfriend about the pregnancy. Mr. Gordon, the headmaster, jokes that their parents will eventually show up since they cannot live there forever. Kat is visibly upset, and the two nuns who are acting as chaperones reassure her that everything is fine and promise to keep calling her parents. They ask Rose to watch over Kat that night.
That night, Rose tells Kat that she is going out. When Kat protests, Rose tries to unnerve her by telling her a story about the nuns at the school being devil worshipers. She leaves Kat alone and gets in the car with her boyfriend. Kat hears a payphone ringing in the hall and picks up. Once dropped back at the school by her boyfriend, Rose goes to the bathroom and investigates strange noises coming from the boiler room. When she looks through a window in the door, she sees Kat prostrate in front of the lit boiler.
Meanwhile, a girl named Joan (Roberts) gets off a bus and cleans herself up in the bus station bathroom. She has a flashback of a psych ward and tears a hospital bracelet off her wrist. She attempts to make a call on a payphone, but the number has been disconnected. As she waits outside for the next bus, she is noticed by a man named Bill (Remar), who offers her a ride, much to the chagrin of his wife, Linda (Holly). Joan notices a bouquet of flowers in the back seat.
Joan awakens in a hotel room. She takes a shower and a bullet scar can be seen on her shoulder. In a flashback, a police officer shoots a rifle. Bill knocks and tells Joan the reason he picked her up is because she reminds him of someone. He invites her to have dinner with him at the restaurant next door, where he shows Joan a picture of Rose, who is revealed to be his daughter. He explains she died nine years ago. Joan excuses herself and goes to the bathroom, where she giggles and has a memory of killing a woman and stealing her identification card. Joan sees Bill talking to a cop and steals a knife from a bus tray. Bill tells her they have to hit the road to beat an impending storm, and Joan goes to the car where Linda is waiting. Linda tells Joan that Bill sees Rose in every young girl but that she does not see Rose in Joan at all.
Rose tucks Kat in and tries to reassure her that her parents are on their way. Kat tells Rose she knows her parents are dead, which disturbs Rose. Rose goes back to her room and bars her door with a chair. Rose awakens and goes to breakfast with the two chaperones and Kat. Kat begins to act strangely and is unable to pray. When one of the chaperones begins to scold her, Kat stands up and vomits. As they try to nurse her, she lashes out at them. Mr. Gordon rings to tell them he will be coming back to the school. Kat's parents are implied to have indeed died in a car crash. The women ask Rose to shovel the driveway for him. After shoveling, Rose tries to re-enter the chaperones' house, but the doors are locked, so she returns to her dorm room.
When Mr. Gordon arrives at the house, he is accompanied by a police officer. Upon entering the house, Mr. Gordon grasps his face in horror. In a flashback, Kat is seen answering the payphone and hears a gravely voice on the other end, which she calls "Dad". It tells her that her parents are not coming, and to kill everyone. Later, Kat is seen stabbing the two chaperones to death. While one of the victims crawls along the floor, mortally wounded, Kat casually walks upstairs and returns with two pillowcases. She then finishes the job. Rose goes to the bathroom and gets her period, sighing in relief. She hears someone enter the bathroom, but then leave. When she goes to the dorm stairwell, she sees two bloody heads wrapped in pillowcases and hurries back to the hall. Kat appears and stabs Rose to death before decapitating her.
The police officer finds Kat in the boiler room, kneeling in front of the lit 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 cop shoots her in the shoulder.
Joan is in the car with Bill and Linda. Linda reveals to Joan that Rose was brutally murdered nine years earlier and decapitated. Joan says she is going to be sick and Bill pulls over. Joan then slashes Bill's throat and stabs Linda to death. She cuts off their heads and puts them in a suitcase, which she carries to the boarding school, now all boarded up.
Father Brien visits Kat, now revealed to be a younger "Joan", in the psych ward and performs an exorcism. Kat sees a shadowed, demonic figure; she asks it to stay with her, but it disappears. In present day, Joan enters the boiler room with the suitcase, only to find the boiler dark and cold. She exits the school and looks back at it as she begins to sob, realizing she is truly alone.
- Lucy Boynton, as Rose, is 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.
- Kiernan Shipka, as Kat, is an awkward and creepy freshman, who is being haunted by a dark spirit while she is at school with Rose.
- Emma Roberts, as Joan, is an asylum escapee traveling with Bill and Linda.
- James Remar, as Bill, is a sweet man, who is married to Linda and is showing kindness to Joan through driving her to her destination.
- Lauren Holly, as Linda, is Bill’s wife, who dislikes Joan
- Emma Holzer, as Lizzy, is 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 movie 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 U.S. distribution rights to the film. The Canadian distribution rights were then acquired by ABMO Films. The film had its U.S. 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 U.K, 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 comes 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, "low-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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