'The Blackcoat's Daughter' (2015) Review/Explained
This part of the review does not contain spoilers:
I’ve seen the thumbnail of this scared, young girl hiding under the covers so many times while looking for a horror movie on Netflix, so I decided to give it a chance. I’m actually writing this a few days after finishing ‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter,’ starring the ‘American Horror Story’ actress Emma Roberts; I am only now realizing how much I genuinely love this movie.
I know more people who dislike jumpscare reliant movies/jumpscares in general, but I personally love & hope for them; a well placed jumpscare can give me that all-over fear feeling I look for. That being said, this is not a jumpscare movie, whatsoever.
I grew up on horror (I’ve seen all the ‘Saw’ movies when they came out & my favorite movie of all time is Silent Hill), so now that I’m older I can definitely say I’m hard to scare; I honestly am more inclined to watch horror movies that are rated R as opposed to M or PG-13. For me, there are several different types of horror: the ones that are scary during but have horrible endings, the ones that are scary during & end in a way that leaves you scarred for life, the ones that are absolutely haunting & you think of at the worse times, & the ones that are an experience that haunt you after it’s all said & done; ‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter’ is the latter.
The movie starts out with the young blonde girl you see in the thumbnail, assumptions are made, confusion is aroused, but there are no moments where this movie isn’t absolutely macabre. We watch the stories of the main character: Katherine, the second girl/schoolmate in the boarding school: Rose, & an older girl outside the school: Joan. The scenes alternate between focuses on each one throughout the movie; I know a lot of people have a hard time following some movies that don’t seem sequential, like the 2009 movie ‘The Uninvited,’ but I assure you that this movie is not like that. It’s easy to follow & the use of the varying character focus is utilized really well; the alternating helps in creating the absolutely haunting & eerie ambiance you’d want. The reason I mentioned that I’m only realizing how much I love the movie days later, is because I always thought Netflix’s description tags never made sense. For once, the “chilling” tag is actually accurate. Days later I keep thinking about the movie & feeling disturbed, & I don’t mean any specific scene makes me disturbed, I mean just thinking of the story at all… If you don’t have a soft stomach or aren’t fearfully religious, I definitely recommend this movie.
9/10 definitely recommend. If you reading this after watching, read on to see the explanation.
This part of the review contains spoilers, read on for explanation for the movie:
Like I mentioned earlier, the movie alternates between three characters. From reading other reviews after finishing this movie, for some reason there was confusion in this aspect. The three girls in the movie are not only obviously “different” people, but the movie goes out of it’s way to put their names over the scene when it changes the character in focus.
Katherine is the main character who has a vision of her parents dying, which is shown straight away; of course you might suspect it to be a nightmare but the vision wasn’t like a nightmare. A man in a BLACKCOAT wakes Katherine who she looks up at & says “daddy?” then follows him out to see a car absolutely destroyed & begins to cry. Her parents' faces are never shown, which I personally feel adds to the eeriness, but I also feel was meant to help paint Katherine’s detachment even more. No one would like a dream like that, & Katherine’s demeanor & attitude reflects this throughout the entire movie.
We then have Rose, a pretty schoolmate of Katherine's who says she didn’t realize they were supposed to get picked up on Friday but it is obvious she told her parents to come later on purpose. Katherine becomes fixated on Rose &, in my opinion, it’s almost Rose’s fault that Katherine ends up the way she did.
The third main character, “Joan,” shows memories of what seems to be a mental institution, getting shot, & a blurry figure who has the outfit of a priest looking over her. When they first show her, she looks at a map & continues to look at the “Bramford” location over & over. By this point in the movie you know that the boarding school is called Bramford, so the viewer is likely to make the assumption that Joan has some relation to the school. A man then offers Joan a ride after seeing her alone at a bus station, who not only reveals he’s going that direction, but we see a bumper sticker of the school on the car & flowers in the back seat (at this point I’m thinking that these are Katherine’s parents on their way, late, to pick her up).
I believe the confusion for some viewers was when it’s revealed that the couple giving Joan a ride are actually Rose’s parents, as he pulls out a school photo of her which was shown being taken at the beginning of the movie (which helps the understanding that Joan’s narrative is in the present while Katherine & young Rose are in the past) & says she is dead, so we learn Rose dies which we are yet to be shown in the movie so far. Joan then goes to the bathroom, weirdly laughs, then we see flashbacks of her murdering a woman & looking at her ID which says “Joan” on it, now learning that she is not Joan. When she leaves the bathroom, a cop is talking to Rose’s father & she hides, then insinuating she actually escaped from the mental hospital & wasn’t legally released.
After this, we see Katherine looking more sick then murdering everyone; then we see Joan murder Rose’s parents. Afterwards, we learn they are actually the same person. When Katherine was captured by policed (& shot like in “Joans” flashback), a (very casual) exorcism is performed; adding to the pity over Katherine, she whispers “Don’t go” to the demonic figure to the side.
This is where the other part of confusion comes, when older Katherine decapitates Rose’s parents like her other victims then takes them to that same furnace. When older Katherine goes to the furnace, she not only seems to be scared of it burning her before touching it, but she looks to be saying some “prayer,” then goes outside & cries in agony.
A lot of people were wondering why she did it if she was going to cry, but the laughing-scoff she did after finding out the couple are Rose’s parents seems to be one of “I can’t believe it,” like Satan would only let her completely go if she killed Rose’s parents as well. Earlier on in the movie were shown Katherine’s fixation on wanting to stay at the school, then wanting to stay with the headmaster, insinuating that she has no other family aside from her parents. Once she delivers their heads to the furnace, I believe she is completely free of Satan’s grasp & the reality of all the murders she committed & just how alone she really is actually hits her. It seems as though the demon possessing her was the only thing she had, but once she delivered Rose’s parents, it left.
I personally don’t think the movie is very confusing at all & I feel that the twist end of realizing that Joan is actually older Katherine adds to just how horrifying & eerie the story really is.