The Blackcoat's Daughter (2017) | Explanation, Recommendations & Spoilers | Film Review
The Blackcoat's Daughter (2017) is an American supernatural-horror film written and directed by Osgood Perkins. The film stars Lucy Boynton, Kiernan Shipka, Emma Roberts, James Remar and Lauren Holly. The film was distributed by A24 and released on March 31, 2017 in the United States.
In the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Kat, a freshman at a Catholic boarding school named Bramford Academy. We see Kat is in her dorm bedroom, sleeping, seemingly having an upsetting dream. In a series of vague images, we work out that Kat's parents have been in a car accident.
As Kat wakes up, she is visibly upset by her dream and goes to her calendar to cross off some days in February. We see that she has marked a day coming up when her parents will visit, circling their names with a heart, making it seem as if she is counting the days until they visit. This makes it clear that Kat is incredibly homesick and misses her parents.
It also seems that Kat does not have many, if any friends, if she is focused on marking the days off until her parents arrive. I also thought it was strange how desperate Kat was to see her parents because it was only February, and I would think she would have spent some time with her parents at home for winter break. Hmm...either Kat is very shy and introverted, or she's a real weirdo who people stay away from for some reason...let's find out which one it is.
After marking the days off of her calendar, Kat goes to see her only sort-of friend at the academy, Father Brian (Way to go Kat, the school priest is your only friend. You need to get out there and start talking to people, or maybe not, let's see what's going on first...). Father Brian asks Kat about her upcoming piano piece for the school recital. He tells Kat that unfortunately, he has to travel to Albany and won't be at the recital, but that her parents should be there.
Kat asks, for some weird-ass reason, how long it takes to get to Albany and Father Brian tells her it takes two hours. Kat stares in a corner of the room and smiles, creeping Father Brian (and me) out. He turns to see what the hell she is smiling at, sees nothing, then turns back to her, confused.
Um...I would've been like, "Wtf are you smiling at you freak, no wonder you have no friends." And that, my friends, is why I have no business working with kids. Who knows what kind of shit would come out of my mouth? I have no filter. No filter at all. I have to work on that. Maybe. Probably.
Anyway...we leave Kat and her supreme unsettling weirdness and meet up with Rose. Rose (Lucy Boynton) seems more normal than Kat at least, she doesn't appear to be surrounded in darkness (or a dark grey filter, but whatever). Rose goes to take her school picture (she definitely takes a better school picture than me, I take pictures like Quasimodo), but looks very unhappy.
She goes to the school infirmary to try to scam the nun nurses into thinking she is sick (who knows why). They don't believe her because apparently nun nurses are superior to regular school nurses and can't be fooled, but they pretend like they buy her "sore throat" story and give her some mystery pills to take.
Soon after, we learn why Rose is sad and pretending to be sick. She tells a friend that she thinks she is pregnant because her period is late. Rose pretended to be sick so her parents wouldn't pick her up at the beginning of spring break. So what is she going to do instead? Well, Rose is going to sneak out and meet up with the guy that got her pregnant and see what he has to say about their new buddy in the belly. I'm going to imagine that it's going to go really well, seeing how upbeat she has been, but we'll see, I'm no psychic, you know.
Meanwhile, the entire school is marching up the road, freezing their asses off, trying to get to the auditorium without getting frostbite. Kat (or Sally, if you know, you know and you've been calling her Sally the entire movie as well), is the only one trying to actually get frostbite. Oh no, she's not in a hurry to get to the auditorium at all, instead, Kat is turned the opposite way, staring down the road at more nothing. Who knows what she is looking for or seeing, but she's freaking me out and needs to go inside.
She eventually does go inside the auditorium to start the recital and plays well until she sees the two empty seats her parents should be sitting in. We aren't sure where her parents are, if her dream was real, or if her parents are hurt or dead, but Kat seems to be struggling with something we don't know about and can't see.
After the recital ends, we see Kat and Rose sitting in the headmaster's office (Mr. Gordon), along with the two nun nurses. Mr. Gordon asks Kat if she has heard from her parents, as no one has heard from them. Kat tells Mr. Gordon she doesn't have a phone and cannot get in contact with them. He reassures her that they probably got caught in bad weather, but methinks they might've died in a car accident like Kat dreamed.
Rose, on the other hand, keeps up her lie and tells Mr. Gordon she spaced out and told her parents to pick her up later in the week because she thought they were getting out on Friday. The nun nurses, hip to Rose's bullshit, basically roll their eyes, but Mr. Gordon buys it and tells Rose to look after Kat, which puts a real damper on Rose's plans to tell her boyfriend about the new friend in her belly.
The rest of the film follows Kat and Rose as they spend time in the academy alone (or are they alone...hmm) on spring break, waiting for their parents to show up and whisk them away from the grey drudgery of the Catholic boarding school in Connecticut.
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* Discussion contains spoilers
Later that night, Rose tells Kat that she won't be participating in the plan Mr. Gordon had for them, where she babysits a real freak of nature for the night. Then she tells Kat some crazy (maybe true, probably not) story that the nun nurses have to wear wigs and don't have any hair on their bodies. I don't know about you, but if Rose told me this story, I'd laugh. I thoroughly enjoy making up weird, outlandish stories for my own entertainment, too.
Kat, however, does not laugh, because she apparently doesn't have a sense of humor like mine (hers is more like, "let's laugh at the creepy thing in corner" kind of humor). Then she tells Kat that three years ago, some girl who went to the school walked in on the nun nurses and caught them worshipping the Devil.
Instead of having some kind of normal reaction, like, "Bullshiiiiiit, Rose. Whatevs, I'm out of here.", Kat tells Rose, "Who told you?" Excuse me, what in the f*ck? What do you mean, "Who told you?" Does Kat think Rose was told Kat worships the Devil? Methinks so based on that impossibly creepy reaction. This answer disturbs Rose so much she tells Kat she doesn't want her to come into her room or touch her things, like you know, ever. It's a boarding school restraining order in the dorms, as much as there can be one, that is.
Rose leaves to go meetup with her boyfriend and Kat immediately does what Rose expressly told her not to do, which is go into her room and touch all of her shit. She looks at Rose's hairbrush and school photo and stares at the photo for a worryingly amount of time. I'm starting to think Kat does worship something evil or is possessed by something evil and is going to use something personal of Kat's for some kind of evil boarding school ritual.
We are then introduced to another girl, Joan (Emma Roberts), who is traveling to an unknown location. She has several flashbacks, which make it seem like she was in a mental hospital at some point. It looks like she just got out because she's still wearing a hospital bracelet. She makes a phone call on a public telephone to an unknown person, but doesn't get an answer. We soon learn that she is at a bus station and is looking to travel to Bramford or a town near it.
As Joan waits for the bus, a man stops to ask her if she is okay. He introduces himself as Bill (James Remar) and asks Joan where she is traveling to. She tells him Portsmith, a town east of Bramford. He offers to drive her there and tells Joan his wife is in the car as well. Joan soon meets Bill's wife (Lauren Holly), who seems upset that Bill is giving Joan a lift. Bill's wife tells Bill they can take Joan to the next gas station, but no further. She doesn't seem to want Joan in the car or to deal with Joan at all, really.
We are then back with Rose and find out she's met up with her troglodyte boyfriend, who has apparently been saying all the wrong things about the possible buddy in her belly. Rose seems resigned to getting an abortion without the support of her boyfriend, which is sad. I say, good riddance to bad rubbish, Rose. That guy sucks.
Rose goes to look for Kat to make sure she is okay and in her bed, but finds Kat's bed empty. She hears someone talking and goes to find out where it's coming from, since no one is supposed to be at the school. She assumes it's Kat and follows the sound to the basement, where she finds Kat on her knees in front of the furnace, bowing and straightening up over and over very quickly, as if she is praying to something we can't see.
Shiiiiiiit, I'd leave the school. F*ck that. When you catch someone who has been decidedly creepy and all but admits they worship the Devil, it's time to call a cab and beat it. Get on a bus, train, whatever, just gtfo.
We are then back to Joan's perspective and see that she has woken up in a motel, alone. She takes a shower and hears a knock on the door. She answers the door (in a towel, wtf) and it's ol' Billy boy. Bill comes in a starts acting really creepy, which makes me fear Joan is in danger. However, he soon leaves and we are left thinking Joan needs to be careful around Bill.
We are then whisked away and back with Rose and Kat. Rose sees that Kat has taken a shower and is going to bed. Kat tells Rose that Mr. Gordon told Rose that she was supposed to take care of Kat and that now it's "too late" and Kat's parents are dead. She doesn't explain what she means and Rose is disturbed by Kat's behavior, unsure of what to do. She tells Kat that her parents aren't dead and that they just have to wait until Friday for their parents to pick them up.
Rose, deeply disturbed by Kat yet again, goes to her room and puts a chair in front of her door in case Kat tries to come in. Meanwhile, we see Kat attacked in her bed by an unseen force, which contorts her body while she screams in pain. It's pretty horrifying and it's very evident that Kat is dealing with either the Devil or something really evil, like maybe one of those Keebler elves.
F*cking inflammatory cookie making freaks. They'll possess you, force you to make their cookies, and live in a tree dorm with all the other elves for life, ya'll. Just kidding. I don't think they're really evil, but they do make some crappy cookies. Just saying.
We then see that Joan gets dressed and goes to the motel restaurant to eat dinner with Bill and his wife. However, it's just Bill at a table when Joan gets there and we learn that his wife is in the hotel room and Bill tells Joan that he and his wife are visiting Bramford because they lost their daughter Rose nine years ago and visit on the anniversary of her death. It turns out the next day is the ninth anniversary of her death, which makes it seem like Rose was probably "lost" or more likely, "killed horribly by a possessed freak named Kat."
I guess we all knew Kat was probably going to kill someone after her spine was turned inside out against her will.
Bill shows Joan a picture of Rose and Joan quickly gets up from the table and goes to the bathroom. After she goes into a stall, she starts laughing and we realize that Joan is actually Kat and is delighted that she has met Rose's parents, delighted that they are devastated by their loss and that she has another chance to be completely evil. I mean, who knows how she got out of the mental hospital, but I bet anything they didn't check her off as "sane" and let her out. Which means it was most likely murder folks, lots and lots of murder.
Whereas before I was worried for Joan/Kat, now I am worried for Bill and his wife, Linda. I don't know what Joan/Kat is up to, but it seems like she is actually trying to get back to the school for some unknown reason. Well, actually, the reason is probably more murder because she's super evil, but we'll just have to see, won't we?
Joan/Kat has a flashback where she's strangling someone at the hospital and Joan/Kat now has that woman's identification. Yep, she's evil as shit. Joan/Kat comes out of the bathroom and sees Bill talking with a police officer and pauses. She watches them for a bit and turns to see some dirty dishes with a big ol' steak knife. Methinks I know where that steak knife is going to end up, somewhere in Bill and Linda, but let's be optimistic and hope Bill and Linda make it out of this alive.
Joan goes back to the table and Bill tells her bad weather is coming, so he had their food packed up and asks Joan to get the food while he takes a shit or something. I don't know man, he just gets up from the table and books it, so I'm guessing he had to let out a molten chocolate cake in a hurry. Probably had some Taco Bell earlier or something. Let that be a lesson to you folks, don't eat Taco Bell on a road trip or well, ever, unless you want the runs.
Joan/Kat gets into the car and she doesn't appear to have gotten the food (what an asshole) because apparently evil doesn't get hungry, it gets its sustenance from murder and mayhem. Well, Joan/Kat, maybe Bill and Linda are hungry, but their food is either on the table or in the dumpster and they ain't eatin' shit unless they want more Taco Bell. Or Wendy's. Or they want to risk death by visiting a 7-11 and getting a Slurpee and a shriveled up meat stick also known as a "hot dog" on hot rollers.
Bill hasn't gotten back to the car yet, so Linda takes it upon herself to talk to the ever-talkative Joan/Kat and tells her that Bill basically tells every young girl they remind him of their daughter and Linda never sees what he is talking about. Joan/Kat, doesn't respond and looks out the window, seemingly not listening. Linda tells her that only one time she saw a girl who reminded her of Rose, but as she is talking, she seems to realize Joan/Kat doesn't care and stops telling Joan/Kat about her, telling Joan/Kat that she doesn't see Joan/Kat at all.
I took this to mean that Joan/Kat doesn't really have a personality, doesn't come across like a normal young woman, and generally gives Linda the creeps. Here, here, Linda! I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of Joan/Kat. I vote we boot the bitch out of the car face-first and report her crazy ass to the authorities before you and Bill get murdered.
We go back in time and soon see it is the next day for Rose and Kat. Rose wakes up, goes out into the hallway and sees Kat on the phone. Kat hangs up and goes over to talk to Rose after Rose asks Kat what they said, assuming it was Kat's parents on the phone. Kat tells Rose that a male said something along the lines of, "It's okay, you can't live at the academy, you can live with me." Rose, confused as we are, asks who Kat is talking about and Kat tells her, "You know who."
Excuse me, wtf do you mean, "You know who"? The Devil? A Keebler elf? Wtf? Kat, the freak she is, smirks and tells Rose that Mr. Gordon told her that she could live with him. Rose, knowing that can't be true, is very disturbed by Kat and basically just wants to get the hell away from her. We see Rose and Kat at lunch with the nun nurses (Excuse me, but where have they been while these shenanigans have been going on? At a nun convention? Why couldn't they watch Kat get possessed instead of a 15-year-old? What kind of school is this?).
Rose starts to say Grace before everyone eats and one of the nuns notice that Kat isn't saying Grace with them, as she has always done before. When the nun asks Kat to say Grace, we notice Kat is smirking and looks pale and sickly. She starts to say Grace and stands up halfway though, seemingly deciding to show everyone that she had some kind of Krusty's Imitation Gruel for breakfast and pukes all over the table.
Well folks, either the Devil made her puke or her visit to Waffle House at 3 a.m. was a huge mistake (spoiler alert, it's always a huge mistake).
As the nuns attend to the grossness that is Kat, they take her to the infirmary and try to take care of her and she calls one of the them a see you next Tuesday when they try to get her to drink some water. Whoa. Calm down, freak. The phone rings and one of the nuns answers it and it's Mr. Gordon. Apparently he's coming to visit unexpectedly and we figure out he's coming to tell Kat her parents are dead. Kat keeps saying to Rose that someone told her that she couldn't stay at the school, but that they were wrong and they'll tell her she can stay after all.
Rose is called over by the nuns and told to shovel a bunch of snow for Mr. Gordon's arrival, glad to get away from Kat, but feels like she's being punished for no reason.
She finishes shoveling the walk and goes up to the house to find the door has been locked and doesn't see the nuns anywhere. She goes to the dorms and we see Mr. Gordon arriving at the house some time later. He goes into the house where everyone was eating lunch and discovers blood on the walls and a horrifying scene. We can't see what he is looking at, but he is obviously distressed and horrified.
We are then transported to the day Kat is looking at and marking off her calendar at the beginning of the film. We begin to see a reflection of a shadow with horns wherever Kat goes. We also see her talking on the phone and get an explanation about who she has been talking to. Apparently it's either the Devil or some evil being, who tells Kat her parents are dead and to kill everyone.
As the days pass we see Kat is more despondent and begins to see an apparition of some creepy ass demon in the corners of the room. As time passes, it's like she accepts her parents are dead and the demon is her new parental figure.
I guess since Kat had no friends and her only family was dead, she thought that the only one with her was a demon (or the Devil), so even though she was scared, she accepted being possessed because the demon told her she could stay with him, making her feel wanted and cared for, like her parents did.
Man, this kid is screwed up. So messed up, in fact, that in the next scene we see her murdering the nuns and removing their stuck-on heads from their necks. This is really a heartwarming movie, let me tell you.
While Kat is kindly helping the nuns get their stubborn heads off of their bodies, Rose is in the bathroom, getting her period. She's not pregnant after all! All of that worry for nothing, yay! Rose calls out for Kat after she hears someone moving around in the bathroom. Kat doesn't answer, so Rose goes out to the hallway to see what's going on.
She goes into the stairwell and sees the massacre o' the nuns and tries to run away, only to run into Kat, who has a large knife. Kat proceeds to murder Rose and take her head, then proceeds to the basement with her three heads in a duffle bag, lays them out in front of the furnace and starts to pray to the demon thing.
A cop, who arrived with Mr. Gordon, finds a blood trail and follows it to the basement where he discovers Kat with her array of heads. She still has the knife she used to kill everyone and yells "Hail Satan!" and the cop shoots her in the shoulder. I would've aimed for the head and/or heart, but, I'm not the cop, so...
We then are transported to Bill's car and we see them on the same road where Kat stood in the beginning of the film, looking down the road at something we couldn't see. Joan/Kat asks Bill to pull over so she can throw up and as he does, Joan/Kat stabs Bill and Linda and cuts off their heads.
This is great, I'm so glad Bill and Linda met the end of a dirty restaurant steak knife. That's exactly what I wanted to happen, mmm hmm. Why couldn't Joan/Kat have met the dirty end of a restaurant steak knife instead? Or a dirty fork? I'll take anything at this point.
We go back in time again and find ourselves with Kat, who is bandaged and in a bed. She is visited by Father Brian and he performs an exorcism on her, effectively banishing the demon. Kat sadly tells the demon not the leave her, but it leaves anyway.
We are back to the present moment and see that Joan/Kat has gone back to the furnace where she originally worshipped the demon. She has brought the heads of Bill and Linda, but the furnace is cold and she cannot summon the demon. She goes out to the road from the beginning of the film and looks down the road expectantly, but finds that she is truly alone. She breaks down, devastated by her loss.
Wow. I really liked this movie. It was really creepy and I liked how it changed from being worried about Kat, then Joan/Kat, but then you realized she wasn't a victim after all and after her initial possession, murdered Bill and Linda all on her own.
I understand that Kat was lonely and couldn't process the deaths of her parents, whom she was so close to, but that doesn't mean that you embrace evil and do evil things to get your pseudo evil "parent" back in your life. I mean, really, wtf Kat.
I also prefer in horror films to have the implication of something horrible rather than seeing something horrible, like watching anyone be decapitated. I think the horror can be implied and it be understood that a person's imagination can fill in the details and be just as effective.
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