Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.
It takes place in the middle of a cold, snowy Canadian winter at an all-girls boarding school. The winter break is approaching and all the girls are picked up by their parents to spend a week at home. The exception is Kat (Kiernan Shipka), a very young girl whose parents don't show up and she begins to fear them dead, and Rose (Lucy Boynton), an older girl who has lied to her parents because she wanted to spend the break alone at the school. As time goes on, Kat gets more and more worried about her parents and acting stranger and stranger. Meanwhile, a couple of towns over, another young lady, Joan (Emma Roberts), escapes from a mental institution. She seems to be on the move toward the boarding school where the other two girls are. I would advise against seeing trailers or looking up anything further about the plot, this movie is best experienced with no preconceptions of the sub-genre or where it is going, because it leaves you most open to what it tries to do.
The magic of this movie is mostly in its extremely distinct mood, an almost undefinable aura or quality to it. All of the aspects of film making mirror the cold, snowy winter - music, the pace, the character interactions. The characters speak lazily, morbidly to each other, everything has a hint of cold tension underneath it. I've never seen a horror movie with this particular type of mood, and I always welcome unique experiences.
The script is also expertly crafted. I like how subtly the mystery is revealed to the viewer - it is not spoon-fed at any point, and it is quite well-concealed for at least the first half of the movie. We only get pieces that almost seem impossible to fit together, yet they come together in a perfectly obvious and coherent conclusion. On top of that, the story radiates an overwhelming sadness which elicited a very strong emotional response from me personally. Mostly due to Shipka's amazing acting, which stole every scene (the other two girls are great too, just overshadowed by the youngest cast member). She really captures the desolate emptiness required of her role.
The flaws are really mostly superficial, and a product of the fact that the movie was made by a relatively young cast. The director clearly has a good eye for morbid beauty, and he has made a movie that is much more artistic than the average horror, but I still found that some of his stylistic choices were cheesier and more generic than he seems to think they were. He's still a very talented guy, he just needs to find a more humble and grounded balance between innovation and reference. Still can't wait until he makes another horror though, I will definitely be following him!
- Sep 15, 2015