Kat and Rose are stranded at a boarding school for girls over a snowy weekend in Canada, meanwhile the disturbed Joan has escaped from an asylum, and is offered a lift by a strange couple. These three perspectives intersect, wind back and circle around until they meet at one point. This atmospheric horror has divided audiences – there are some who relish it’s slow build, brooding menace while others find it slow, and derivative and want to yell “Get on with the demonic possession!” I’m in the former group, the spiralling eddies of the plot line add to the disjuncture of the characters and the audience. All three leads are played superbly, with Kiernan Shipka’s Kat a central ball of creepiness and dissolution. But it is the soundtrack, ominous and daunting, straight from the Berberian Sound Studio that is the real star.
There is one major structural flaw, that I can’t really state without giving away the entire ending. But you’ll feel it too when you see it. But that is a small complaint against a horror that brings real menace, several “what the fuck is going on” scenes and an occasional “oh my God” moment. It has a lot in common in tone with the Witch, (as well as obvious nods to The Exorcist and Session 9), but adds in real fear also. The best horror of the year – there I said it.