Corinna Faith (director)
08 April 2021 (released)
05 April 2021
January 1974 and the powercuts during the Edward Heath government is the unusual backdrop for this British horror and ghost story.
Val (Rose Williams) is a newly qualified nurse who on her first day is sent to a dilapidated East End hospital that is the process of moving its patients due to the powercuts. Introduced to a no-nonsense Matron (Diveen Henry) Val is left in no doubt that newbie or not there won’t be much of a grace period. The other nurses are cynical and unhelpful, with the advice that she shouldn’t talk to the doctors as they are above her station.
Almost immediately Val breaks that rule when she befriends Saba (Shakira Rahman) a nervous Indian girl who doesn’t speak very much English, attracting the attention of Dr Franklin (Charlie Carrick) who asks that she join his team. Castigated by Matron this gets Val on to the ‘dark shift’ the team that prepares the hospital for the scheduled blackout and she is terrified of the dark.
With nothing more than a few patients, a skeleton staff and gas lamps the team prepare as the darkness falls. It’s not long before Val suspects that there is something else in the building with them via creaking doors, spectral sightings, visions and physical attacks. Her reacquaintance with bullying Babs (Emma Rigby) from her past, now too a nurse, only serves to raise her anxiety.
A lot of this is pretty predictable with the nasty nurses, creepy janitors and hidden secrets however the setting is during the period of the UK three-day week is novel, thus stepping it away from the cluster. it is however calculated as at that time people were expected to know their place in silence and be grateful of it.
That elitist power was being challenged by the unions in the 1970’s in particular the miners who had the country by the scruff of the neck. Faith doesn’t go into those actual politics too much being more concerned with the overriding attitudes of society (The Power) at that time of which the deference afforded to doctors by nurses being something of a metaphor.
Writer Corinna Faith directs a solid cast with assurance and conjures up some pretty good scares though the film is more about atmosphere and dread building using the shadows and the light of the lanterns to good effect. The intensity of the manifestations are matched by Val’s physical and (perceived) mental decline as the film progresses. Faith also hints at other more corporeal horrors within the hospital with shots of murals that could be portents or records of events.
The Power is released on 8 April exclusively on Shudder.