Early 1970s England, a young woman is hired as a nurse and put on the night shift while local miners on strike turn off the power. What she finds in the darkness of her new job is something that she may not be able to leave behind.
Written and directed by Corinna Faith, The Power is a slow burn eerie film that takes its time building its effect and as it goes, it adds more and more to the sense of dread until it feels like the viewer is there and feeling the presences with the lead and feeling all that she is as it happens. It’s the kind of film that is not filled with action and that is for the better. The fear is palpable in some of the scenes and it’s due to how it’s all written, directed, and acted. It’s the kind of film to watch alone, in the dark, preferably on a dark, stormy night. The setting of a hospital is something seen many times before, but the way it’s used here is done with understanding of the fear such a building brings to some people and how to use its long empty hallways and its air of death being at the corner. it’s the kind of place pretty much no one likes going to unless it’s for a new birth. Here, the sense of dread is perfect for the story and as the story advances, this sense becomes stronger and stronger, creating an atmosphere that makes any noise or unexpected movement something that is to be feared.
Leading the cast in this setting is Rose Williams as Val who gives it her all and makes this film hers. She’s in the majority of the scenes and obviously the central character, but she also becomes a part of the dread and fear as she communicates her own feelings of these in a nuanced performance that is not just about fear, but also about hope, sadness, and a little bit of anger. She goes through the gamut of emotions and lets it show in the best of ways on the screen. Had she not been the lead, she would have stolen every scene she is in. This movie is hers. Of course, the rest of the cast around her also does great work and this helps push her performance to the forefront.
Supporting the story and the acting, the cinematography by Laura Bellingham is superb. The use of darkness as the unknown and also as an almost character in her work helps the film feel like it’s dripping with atmosphere. Bellingham’s work shows a mastery of light and framing to bring the right elements to attention and to focus the viewer on what may or may not important, creating that all important dread and bringing a doubt as to what their eyes bring to them. The film is dark, but it’s done in a way that the action and the leads are visible and easy to follow, something of a tour de force compared with many films shot much less carefully.
The Power is a slow burn worth sticking with as it boasts great performances and fantastic cinematography. While it’s not a tent pole scary film, it’s one more than worth the time and effort to give it a watch. So sit down, turn the lights off, make sure there are no other noises, and enjoy the creeping dread building up as you watch this often times subtle film.
Now Streaming on Shudder.