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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Review: The Power

Director: Rose Williams

Screenplay: Rose Williams

Year: 2021

As I’ve mentioned in a few past reviews, “Lucky” the most recent one, Shudder has not only managed to fatten up their catalog with horror movies but also they have put effort into including some with a message or social commentary. In the times we inlive, where racism, intolerance, and power struggles fill the news, many people have raised their voices condemning these actions, and the film industry has been one. “The Power” is the most recent movie to join the list of movies that use this artistic medium to point at this unacceptable behavior and offer some catharsis in the process.

Based on the ‘70s decade, “The Power” follows Valerie, a young nurse, in her first day of work in a British hospital. In the city, a group of protesters leave the town in the dark every night, which means a difficult night shift, to which Valerie gets assigned. The dark is not the only problem the nurse faces, as the hospital’s walls hold many secrets, and some of them are ready to come out.

As you might have caught from the previous lines, the title of this movie is used both in a literal form with the power losses at night, as well as in metaphor. In the first scenes, we meet Valerie (Rose Williams; “A Quiet Passion”) as she is being informed of what is expected of her behavior in the hospital after being recruited as a nurse, and it is quickly made clear that the hospital is managed in a rigorous bureaucratic hierarchy where those on top have more power than those below. It is also clear that Valerie’s calling and principles will lead her to fail in this system sooner than later and makes her the perfect protagonist for the message the movie wants to send.

The writer and director Corina Faith show decisiveness in what she wants to show, which is both an asset and one of the movie’s weaknesses. Through the development, there are clues spread around about the subtext that in the third act will become the focal point, but in parts, it feels too forced into the screen and could have worked best if it had been more subtle.

In the horror aspect, the director once again shows confidence and decisiveness about what she wants to show, but instead of being explicit as with the subtext, she prefers to be more ambiguous and play with the viewer's perception. In this case, she plays with different horror types through the excellent cinematography and soundtrack, teasing with religious horror, possessions, hauntings, and ghosts, and leaves the viewer trying to decipher which road she will lean towards while trying to understand what is going on.

“The Power” joins the list of progressive movies that have used the horror genre to raise their voice against the social problems surrounding us. This is achieved without losing from perspective that this is a horror movie and offering a few scares in a spectacular scenario praised with great cinematography and acting. Sometimes the message it wants to send lacks subtlety, but it is a minor issue in an otherwise great movie.

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