The Power Plot
In 1974, a miners strike causes the UK to introduce a policy to conserve energy where the electricity is turned off at designated periods. This means that hospitals would need to transfer their patients to locations with power before those periods of time kicked in. The first of these nights is when a young nurse named Val (Rose Williams) is expected to start her work and due to her getting on the wrong side of the Matron (Diveen Henry), Val will have to take the night shift and mind the hospital and those patients who can’t be moved while the power has been turned off.
During the night, not only does Val learn about the seedier side of the nurses and doctors who live there but also happens upon some very unhappy spirits who want revenge for something truly horrible that happened in the hospital’s past.
The Power Positives
The Power begins as a very slow and quiet drama but turns, abruptly, into a combination of a haunted house and possession movie with heavy undertones almost completely rooted in issues of rape culture and specifically what big institutions do to protect rapists and silence victims. It takes a while to reveal that’s what it’s doing but once they make it very clear that the ghosts were victims of something that the staff of the hospital covered up, it stops bothering with subtlety.
Indeed, The Power spends a good chunk of time reveling in being a quiet and subtle experience, using the tools it has in order to create a quietly unnerving mood. From little things like a reflection creating an frightening image to the strange movement of a shadow, things start quietly until the film almost gets bored with trying to hold back and turns the volume up every time something spooky happens.
Where The Power absolutely excels is in the latter half when they finally go “So, this is all about abuse and the systems that allow it to happen” and just go for broke with it. That’s roughly when the possession part of the film begins and it’s absolutely horrific in the best way. You feel the sheer terror and panic in every character that’s stuck in this hospital, it’s visceral and shocking in ways that horror should be. It doesn’t pull punches when it comes to its political theme either – if anything it punches twice as hard because the genre allows them to do that.
The Power Problems
Now, there are some parts that don’t quite work. Entire characters turning completely stupid in ways that might be acceptable if they were teenage campers in a slasher film, but these are meant to be nurses who shouldn’t be this dumb. The fact that no one can seem to get out of the hospital, not via supernatural means but just because someone locked all the doors and no one can figure out how to do some smashing.
Some of the shots in the dark are, hilariously, too dark to work properly. Most of the time they hit that right balance of dark enough that I can tell it’s a blackout but also can see everything, but when they go too dark it just becomes impossible. I also won’t lie, the ending felt a little rushed. Could be because we go from a slow mood piece to a fast high energy ending but it still felt like there was more there, certainly could’ve had more setup for the final horrific reveal that felt like it came out of nowhere.
The Power might not be perfect, but it is a very effective horror film with some great visuals and a mood that holds you in place throughout. With some fantastic performances, actually effective jumpscares and one hell of a powerful message about the abuse of power it’s something to behold. It might not be a new classic, but it’s definitely a good choice for a late night horror marathon.
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