Guest Author: Bernice M. Murphy
Warning: This Article Contains Minor Spoilers.
Writer/director Oz Perkins’ assured debut feature film, The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015), known in the UK and Ireland as February, represents a fascinating treatment of a preoccupation that has become intriguingly prominent in recent American horror cinema: that of the threat posed by dangerously unhinged girls and young women. The past five years alone have seen the release of Excision (Richard Bates, 2012); Stoker (Park Chan-wook, 2013), Alyce Kills (Jay Lee, 2011), The Bleeding House (Philip Gelatt, 2011), We Are What We Are (Jim Mickle, 2013), Last Girl Standing (Benjamin R. Moody, 2015), Let Her Out (Cody Calahan, 2016), Darling (Mickey Keating, 2015), and The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016). Then there is the much-hyped French film Raw (2016), which is about a neurotic female student whose first-term mental breakdown leads to cravings that are a tad extreme. All of these films are about deeply troubled young women who possess an initially latent potential for violence that explodes in the second half of the narrative. Their horrific behavior is usually presented as being the result of severe mental illness that has gone tragically undetected by family and friends because they look (relatively) “normal.” Both dysfunctional familial environments and the romantic and professional stresses of becoming a fully individuated and conventionally successful adult are often implicitly presented as key contributing factors. Read more