The Blackcoat's Daughter ★★★★

Hitting Netflix in recent weeks as the generically titled February, the same name under which it premiered at TIFF 2015, the debut feature by Osgood (son of Anthony) Perkins was rechristened by its US distributor last year as The Blackcoat’s Daughter.

That’s a much more appropriate moniker for this chilling, ethereal mystery horror, in which darkness creeps up on two young women left behind at their Catholic boarding school over the late winter break.

With an extraordinary hand for a first-time director in handling the story’s slow build and agonising tension, Perkins can be forgiven for showing his cards too soon in one particularly unnecessary mid-film scene. But he clearly has plenty more to play from his deck. (I will be checking out his second film, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, very soon indeed.)

As for the performances, it’s hard to find any fault. Above all, what an incredible turn by Kiernan Shipka, only 15 when this was shot. I would say she’s a revelation as the enigmatic Kat, but that should be no surprise to anyone who’s seen her in Mad Men. It’s great to see James Remar and Lauren Holly in something new, too.

If only the film’s European distributor had the marketing nous to protect it from straight-to-video hell.