Alright! Alright! I’ll write about Blackcoat’s Daughter for the love of all that is good and holy! (See what I did there? Holy? Hah!) I think I’ve gotten over a baker’s dozen specific requests to dive into the Blackcoat’s Daughter in a month? Or less? I even watched it after the first couple loud proclamations. And afterwards just thought, nah. Just not my dish. But there is a mean bait and switch twist to Blackcoat’s Daughter that makes the movie ripe for dissection here on THiNC. So I get it. But the movie deals with a subject matter that is just so over the top and hardcore I was a bit remiss to even touch it.
So yeah, if you have not seen this movie, and you are trying to decide whether to watch it or not, look elsewhere to help you make that decision. But one compliment that I can give Blackcoat’s Daughter is the fact that it has a wicked clever right hook to which I found fun to decipher and figure out. But otherwise? Wow. Yeah. It’s all kinds of intense. And wicked dark too. And not fun dark. Because I love fun dark. But that is not this.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is the directorial debut of Osgood Perkins. You know, Osgood? As in, Anthony Perkins son? Uh, Anthony Perkins of Norman Bates fame from Alfred Hithcock’s movie Psycho? Better yet? Osgood was the writer and director of the movie, I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House – which I had a ton of fun with. But here we are with Perkins first movie and debut. Why don’t you have a trailer and see what I mean:
I gotta say, pretty much anything A24 puts out is just magical to me. They have a niche and a sweet spot for all kinds of independent film goodness. And this is definitely right up their alley. So kudos to them for continuing to deliver movie after movie of eloquent goodness our way.
Now, if you haven’t seen this movie. GO AWAY. This isn’t a movie review. This isn’t a spoiler free recommendation. This is going to be a deep dive on what happens in the movie, and the whys, the whats, the hows. Basically so that we can all discuss what we think happened here. So once, again, if you haven’t seen The Blackcoat’s Daughter, please do so, but depart until you do. Ok? Because here be dragons.
High Level Overview of Blackcoat’s Daughter
The first thing to understand about Blackcoat’s Daughter is that there are two threads. The first thread is Kat (Kiernan Shipka), Rose (Lucy Boynton), who are living at the Bramford Catholic school. The second thread is Joan (Emma Roberts), a strange and etherial drifter who’s story may or may not intersect with Kat and Rose’s. Ok? Just knowing that, I’m sure like 70% of you guys coming to look for answers will go… oooohhhhhh. Because that is by far the most confusing bit about this movie. And so, to that end, let’s take each storyline one at a time. And let’s start with Kat and Rose.
The Kat and Rose Storyline Part 1
The Bramford school is heading into the Christmas break. And all the children’s parents are on their way to experience the regular talent show, before heading off to break with their kids. But Kat is having wild flashbacks and visions or maybe nightmares about her mother dying in a car accident. We really have no idea what is going on here. We have zero context. Is this real? Did this happen? Will this happen? We know nothing about why these visions are happening. And Rose? She is a bit of a renegade, who appears to be pregnant?
And it would appear that both Kat and Rose’s parents aren’t going to show. Which sort of means that both girls are stranded for the weekend. And Father Brian has asked Rose to watch over Kat. And as the weirdness of this weekend sort of materializes the two of them sort of go their separate ways. Rose to potentially go get an abortion and Cat to do who knows what. Speaking of which, when Kat comes back, she finds Cat thrashing about in the boiler room for some reason. And eventually Cat and Rose talk, and Cat tells Rose that her parents are dead. And it would appear that Cat is under the disillusion that she will be able to live there at the school with the headmaster. But she seems all kinds of crazy really, to be honest.
The Joan Storyline Part 1
Joan’s storyline begins with her in a bus station frantically trying to rip a medical bracelet off of her wrist. And having nowhere to go, it’s fairly lucky that a kindly stranger, Bill, offers to give her a ride in the direction that he and his wife are going – in the direction of Bamford. Now, like Cat, Joan is having visions of being shot by someone firing a rifle and hitting her shoulder. And Bill? He’s a Creep. Seriously troubling individual. Deeply religious and dying to help Joan. But why? Why is he trying to help her? Well, because she looks exactly like his daughter, who, something bad happened to 9 years ago. Bill’s wife though? Totally is resentful and hateful towards this woman that Bill is trying to save. “You look nothing like her at all, I can’t see her in you at all.”
The Kat and Rose Storyline Part 2
As the Kat/Rose mega-saga continues, the two girls have dinner with two women that have stayed behind to watch over the campus and the remaining girls. But it is literally, the single most awkward dinner event that has ever taken place. And only slightly more awkward than the dinner is that Kat throws up all over the place immediately after grace. Soon, Mr. Gordon calls with news, and let’s everyone know he’s coming back to the school. And all we know is the Gordon knows something is up. Something not right.
But when Mr. Gordon arrives there is blood absolutely everywhere. Flash back, and we see Kat kill the two women in one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve ever seen. I just kept wondering how it was that they did it so accurately, and so believably. It was shocking really.
The Joan Storyline Part 2
Right in the middle of all of this other chaos, Joan is being driven by Bill, and he tells her that Joan looks like his daughter. So much so, that he pulls out a photo of his lost daughter. And come to find out, it is a photo of Rose. And SNAP, just like that, you should know a number of things. But as the movie is filled with all manner of deliria (plural of delirium?), it is so hard to know what is real and what is fake. But trust me on this one, this one is real. Bill is Rose’s father. Which means? Which means what?!? Come on! It means that Bill and his wife have actually been hunted all along. By who though? Who is this Joan gal?!? We’ll get to that in a moment.
The Kat / Joan Storyline nexus
Kat takes the heads of the two women and Rose down to the boiler room that she was undulating in front of earlier in the movie. She believes that Satan or some demon is requesting the heads of the women. Including Kat’s, which she had gotten progressively consumed by over the course of the movie. And actually, more specifically, with her entire family. And after Mr. Gordon finds the grizzly scene he contacts the police. And when confronted, and Kat doesn’t put down the knife, the cop shoots Kat in the shoulder… thus informing us of where the visions in Joan’s timeline were coming from. She then finds her self locked up in a psychiatric ward for nine years.
Bramford’s priest comes to see Kat in the hospital and performs an exorcism, wherein a horned figure appears. And Kat says something to the effect of “Don’t go” to the figure. And then for the next nine years she lives until she is able to leave the facility.
Blackcoat’s Daughter Chronologically Explained
I am nearly certain some of you are still spinning a little bit. Wait, WHAT?!? But maybe it’d be better if I gave it to you in chronological order? Oh, and in bullet format? Everything is more clear in bulleted lists! hahaha.
- Kat’s parents die in a fiery car crash
- Kat somehow gets accepted to Bramford
- Kat and Rose spend the holiday together
- We learn that Rose is lying about her pregnancy
- Kat kills two staff people and Rose
- She severs their heads and worships in the boiler room
- Cops shoot Kat and have her admitted to psychiatric facility
- Her demon is cast out, and Kat is crushed
- 9 years later, attempting to reconnect with this demon she finds Kat’s parents
- And she brutally murders them and carries their heads to the boiler room
- She attempts to reconnect with her demon, but fails
- Kat is scene crying and broken that she had killed two people for nothing
Does that make more sense? Sure, there is a lot more going on here than that, but I think these are the most important keys of the movie in order to understand the overarching principles of what happened. Make more sense? Great.
Final Thoughts on the Blackcoat’s Daughter
Like I said at the start, I wasn’t a huge fan of this film. Oh 90% I dug. But the demons and the satan bits, I wasn’t a huge fan of. But, it being a Perkins film makes all kind of sense to me. This is definitely a related movie to I Am The Pretty Thing… both had similar feelings and tones. I did love the chaos of the two story lines and the two different years being played out simultaneously. Very similar to aspects of Westworld. If you haven’t seen Westworld, go experience it for yourself and see if you can find what I am referring to. Totally worth while. Anyway… this movie had some really good headjukes happening in it that even Perkins’ sophomore movie didn’t have. But I just wasn’t a fan of the extreme and senseless darkness involved. But maybe that’s just me? What did you think of it?