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February (2015)

Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.


Certainly a twisting tale, February - also known as The Blackcoat's Daughter - sees two teenagers at boarding school preparing to break when their parents fail to show up. Staying in the school for the break accompanied by two resident nuns, the young women discover that there is more in the school than first seen.

Written and directed by Oz Perkins (I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House), February has a dark and foreboding feel from the very start. There is clearly something amiss with both of the teenagers remaining at the school. One is having visions of (likely) the accidental death of her parents, and the other is far to wild to be attending a school like this, and is (possibly) pregnant. Then there is the introduction of a (possibly) demonic presence in the basement. It's where Perkins manages to get the meat for the tale - the unknown. This is all intersected back and forth with another story - three people on the road - a middle aged couple, and a hitchhiker, all heading in the direction of the school.

The film has an impressive cast - with the two youngsters at the school being played by Kiernan Shipka (Carriers) and Lucy Boynton (Don't Knock Twice), the couple in the car, James Remar (Horns) and Lauren Holly (The Final Storm), and the hitchhiker, Emma Roberts (Scream 4). Shipka and Boynton do a good job - being relative unknowns at the time helps with this sort of slow burn psychological horror, not having star power to distract, but they are both powerful actors. Putting the star power in the secondary story is a clever move.

The film weaves - it's not a cerebral film, but it does require the watcher to pay a reasonable amount of attention. It's a thoughtful horror film, with a good payoff, the big twist-cum-reveal is a pleasant surprise, and the ending is bleak.

A carefully paced horror film for sure, chilling from the beginning, it's not full of gore, blood, or guts, just a thoughtful, creeping, dread. Well worth the watch for a slower paced, less action oriented horror.

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