As 2021 marches on, Shudder continues to lead the way in original horror programming. To date, Shudder has added new feature length horror movies each and every Thursday. While some of these releases have missed the mark (Shook), Violation, Hunted, Lucky, and Slaxx delivered solid chills early in the year. In addition to offering horror fans a steady stream of movies, Shudder has offered a platform for up-and-coming filmmakers. Some of these filmmakers have included female directors putting new spins on familiar stories. Now first-time director Corinna Faith’s The Power spins British history into a promising supernatural thriller.
On her first day at an old and decrepit hospital, Val finds herself stuck working a graveyard shift. To make matters worse, Britain has suffered rolling blackouts as the government feuds with labour unions. With most of its staff and patients moved to other hospitals, Val finds herself alone in the dark with the sickest patients. As the night drags on, an unseen presence in the dark stalks Val. Is Val’s past coming back to haunt her or are these images the product of a delusional mind?
The Power Puts Its Dark Setting To Haunting Use
Writer and director Corinna Faith accomplishes quite a feat with her feature-length debut. This is an extremely confident horror movie. Rather than relying on cheap tricks, lazy setups, or telegraphed jump scares, Faith immediately sets an ominous tone that she maintains throughout the movie. For its first half, The Power trades in a quiet sense of unease, making full use of its decrepit hospital setting. Once The Power introduces its more ghostly elements, Faith proves she knows how to use disturbing imagery without ever letting things devolve into silliness. There are some truly unsettling moments in The Power.
…Faith proves to be quite adept at creating haunting images that match her established mood.
Where The Power is a little hit or miss is when it dives deeper into its more supernatural elements. That’s not to say that Faith mishandles the movie’s horror elements. To to the contrary, Faith proves to be quite adept at creating haunting images that match her established mood. But The Power’s supernatural rules feel a bit fuzzy. Sometimes things happen because it feels like they’re supposed to in order for the story to movie forward. Still it’s a minor criticism for a movie that works so well.
With her directorial debut, Faith follows Lucky and Violation with a movie that addresses how we deal with trauma and treat victims of sexual violence. Early in The Power, Faith drops hints that Val’s past is troubled. Another nurse – a childhood friend from the orphanage – refers to Val’s tendency to tell stories. Both The Power’s dialogue and flickering images cast some doubt on what Val claims to be seeing. In this regard, Faith’s narrative parallels the gaslighting that often confronts sexual assault victims. Similar to Violation, The Power also contrasts an erratic protagonist with a more convincing foil. It’s another example of the uphill battle faced by sexual assault victims in a world where people make assumptions about what trauma looks like.
…Williams pulls out all the stops. It’s a deeply physical and psychological performance.
Bringing this story to life, Rose Williams delivers a star-making performance. As ‘Val’, Williams pulls out all the stops. It’s a deeply physical and psychological performance. Early in the movie, Williams offers a quiet portrayal of someone unravelling. The story requires that audiences doubt Val, and Williams obliges. Once the more supernatural elements emerge, Williams contorts her bodies in ways horror fans haven’t seen since The Last Exorcism. On those few occasions when The Power loses its focus, Williams keeps audiences invested.
Shudder Continues to Dominate 2021 Horror with The Power
Movie theatres may be closed in many locations. And big studios are still holding back on their major horror releases. But Faith’s The Power is still an early standout in 2021. Though its subtext may not dig as deep as Violation or Lucky, Faith better balances her story with genre elements. Simply put, The Power soaks itself in haunting atmosphere from its opening scene. All of the scares run deep. And as a writer and director, Faith delivers a satisfying resolution that doesn’t betray the build-up. As 2021 marches on, Shudder continues to reward horror fans with its diverse horror offerings.