Let’s be honest, nobody is really a fan of the dark. It’s eerie, unsettling and frankly you could step on something gross or sharp at any moment. It reminds us of the classic scene in How I Met Your Mother in which Marshall (Jason Segel) posits that, due to being bordering nations, Minnesotans have made jokes that Canadians, including Robin (Cobie Smulders) are afraid of the dark. She rebels back that it’s simply not true but suggests that no-one is a fan, and who can blame her: even the strongest willed of us would get a slight apprehension when the lights go out.
Our point – and segue – is that the darkness is scary and in Corrina Faith‘s new chiller The Power, that is exactly the affliction, as well as other arguably more malevolent forces, that is the focus of the film. It’s the early 1970s and a coal miners’ strike has caused havoc across the country with rolling blackouts and resource strains. Not the ideal time to start a new job but Val (Rose Williams), a young East End woman, is doing just that as a nurse at a local hospital where, after speaking up for a patient, is forced to cover the night shift when one of the blackouts is set to occur – and she isn’t a fan.
It all leads to an effective thriller/horror that will certainly keep audiences fulfilled in the shock department but there is more on the bones here than meets the eye. Faith isn’t just after the scary bits, she delves deep into historical issues that still plague our society today, be it the economic and political landscapes, the factors of class and classism and abhorrent but overpowering sexism that many women still struggle with today.
More appalling than the blood, gore and shocks are the misogynistic colleagues and grotesque gropers Val has to endure who take strange pleasure from what they are doing. The darkness might be scary for some, but misogyny, repression and inequality are still the most terrifying, even today and it’s a refreshing twist to the genre to see such themes and debates tackled in such a frank and honest way.
Of course, many will want to come for the “jumpy bits” and there is plenty on offer here to scratch that itch with some chilling set-pieces but the film’s biggest issue, though, is that it is at times inconsistent, striving to hit the notes of The Exorcist or last year’s magnificent Saint Maud but coming up just shy. Faith‘s forceful, melodic direction mixed with Laura Bellingham’s incisive cinematography always keep the film intriguing, helped along by a superb Williams who throws herself into the role with aplomb.
For horror fans, this will certainly tick all the boxes for a classic Friday night treat and while it doesn’t quite follow through on its early promise, is well worth a watch.
Horror | UK, 2021 | 15 | Shudder Exclusive | 8th April 2021 | Dir.Corinna Faith | Rose Williams, Emma Rigby, Charlie Carrick