Shudder Exclusive The Power debuted on the streaming platform April 8 with some fanfare. Is the fanfare deserved? Read on for my take on the film.
Shudder has really upped the quality of their exclusives and originals as of late. Although, to be fair, I never thought they were too shabby to begin with – Mayhem and Revenge were the films that enticed me to take advantage of the free Shudder trial to begin with. Both were so good that I decided to pay for a full year, and I have never looked back.
The Power is a British film, set during the winter of 1974. At the time, a coal miners’ strike led to the country’s prime minister deciding to ration electricity by instituting scheduled blackouts. In the midst of all this, a timid, serious young nurse in training named Val reports to work at an old, sprawling hospital, where she is greeted by the infirmary’s matron. And, by “greeted”, I mean she is lectured, warned against wearing her skirt too short, and told not to speak to the doctors, since anything they say will be over Val’s head.
When a friendly young doctor asks Val’s opinion about the medical condition of a patient, the matron catches her actually responding, and it’s clear from the look on her face that she is not amused. Val is told that she is going to have to work a double shift, with the second shift taking place during the blackout.
Nearly all of the patients and staff are evacuated to another hospital, leaving only four nurses on duty to handle the few infants and comatose patients who are left. Also present are a creepy handyman and a little girl named Saba, who Val bonds with immediately. There are generators powering the needed equipment, but each staff member is armed with a lantern for when the lights go out.
It’s a spooky premise, to be enclosed in a maze-like hospital with no lights, and things get even spookier when Val starts to experience some decidedly supernatural activity. Although the other nurses don’t believe Val’s claims, Saba seems to be experiencing some of the same frightening events.
The cast is solid all around, but Rose Williams’s portrayal of Val sells The Power. There are things about her that we don’t know, but it’s clear she has some secrets in her past. She wants to be a nurse so she can help people, and she has a special fondness for children, so what’s not to like?
By the time The Power becomes a #metoo/ghost story/possession mashup, we are emotionally attached to Val. We feel her fear, and we want her to make it out of this frightening story alive and well.
There were moments in The Power that seriously creeped me out, and Williams’s possession scenes are both riveting and horrifying. It’s chock-full of creaking doors, long, dark hallways, disjointed whispers and all of the other things that make a ghost story scary. By the time The Power wrapped up, I felt as if I myself had spent a harrowing night in an old, dark hospital being chased by a ghost.
Writer/director Corinna Faith has managed to combine a very modern feminist issue with a story that is set four decades ago. Faith said she realized during filming “that we were telling a story about the silence of girls”, and that she was more or less telling her own story as well.
The Power is a film with a message that is never too preachy, perfect for watching in the dark on a rainy night.
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