At a time when coalminers' strikes bring darkness and blackouts across London, a young nurse is forced to work the night shift in an old and decaying hospital. As unwelcome memories risen unbidden in her consciousness, she realises that, for some, the nightmare is ongoing. A Shudder Exclusive, The Power is written and directed by Corinna Faith and stars Rose Williams (Sanditon) as Val.
The opening scenes of The Power set the tone for the significance of the events to come. Waking from a nightmare, Val walks around her tiny bed sit, switching on all the lights and lighting it up like a carnival. It is clear that Val is no friend of darkness. It is her first day working at her new placement.
Proud as she is to finally be a nurse, Val's fresh-faced, spotless demeanour contrast starkly against the old hospital with its sick-coloured walls and peeling paint. Indeed, a hospital is the perfect setting for this story and Corinna Faith makes great use of the angles, lines and frames provided by the endless corridors and stairwells. It's easy to get lost in a hospital like this, as Val learns on her first day, and the perspectives and converging lines immediately plunge the viewer into Val's claustrophobic discomfort.
The generators can only do so much and most of the patients are evacuated to another hospital across town. Despite her inexperience, Val is chosen to remain in the night shift, keeping watch over the remaining patients in an empty and increasingly dark hospital.
The Power is terrifying yet subtle from the first frame. Hints of Val's childhood are released in a series of flashbacks, just enough to elicit a physical, defensive reaction from the viewer. Val's memories are not the darkest actor at play in the hospital and a malevolent force begins to stalk her as we watch the fresh-faced nurse turn haggard and dishevelled. If only she can survive the night with her wits and sanity intact but to do that means discovering the sickening nature of the presence.
Rose Williams is superb in her role as Val and is supported by excellent performances from Gbemisola Ikumelo as Comfort, Emma Rigby as Babs and newcomer Shakira Rahman as Saba. With extremely heavy and traumatic themes, The Power is a dark and brooding British horror that explores sexual abuse, class and gender. The excellent costumes and setting contribute to the overall atmosphere of the film. It is a reminder of the desperate days of the early 70s and the ways in which people were kept in their place.
I give The Power an excellent four out of five stars and recommend to fans of dark, atmospheric and claustrophobic horror. I eagerly look forward to what Corinna Faith will deliver in future.