The Power (2021) Sheds Light on Institutional Horrors
Updated: Dec 26, 2021
Title: The Power
First Wide Release: April 8, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Corinna Faith
Writer: Corinna Faith
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Starring: Rose Williams, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Shakira Rahman
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
A newbie nurse to a large hospital that serves low socioeconomic patients, Val (Rose Williams), gets on the bad side of her new boss and is forced to work the night shift. Set in 1974, rolling blackouts set off by striking miners plunges the hospital into total darkness at night. Alone and vulnerable, Val must take care of her patients, navigate hostile coworkers, and figure out why one little girl (Shakira Rahman) keeps running away from medical care she desperately needs. It doesn’t help that the dark practically paralyzes Val and something supernatural is stalking her throughout the rundown hospital. It’s up to Val to figure out how to survive the night and save those around her from succumbing to the terror of the dark.
A gratifying and riveting ghost story, The Power chooses metaphorical horror to shine light on dark topics without sacrificing scares.
I did not expect The Power to progress the way it does, and I am very thankful that it subverted my own expectations. Ghosts are a powerful way to share stories and shed light on injustices of the past, and present for that matter. Much like the subject material, once the first few drops of information slip through the cracks, it sheds light on important aspects of medicine and society, both then and now.
The extended metaphor, while a bit on the nose at times, is largely my favorite aspect of this film. It’s not anything new, per se, but it is really easy for me to relate to characters in these sorts of films. The tropes of being in the dark and being a voice for the voiceless are all well-trodden subjects that may elicit groans from some, but to me they are still worthy and empowering in a way, especially how it is done in The Power. The foreshadowing is pretty strong, and it does get spelled out too much, but I still love the film for what it is.
Val is a wonderful character, who is dynamic and easy to root for. Her character arc develops steadily throughout the film as she never lets her situation change the good parts of her while forcing her to find comfort in the dark, both in herself and in her past. Rose Williams portrays the hurt, innocence, sense of duty, and confusion well. Her physicality and tone make her character standout in both. Following the script of many similar movies, the antagonist isn’t who they appear to be, and then it gets a bit too “been there, done that.” In the end, it makes sense from a narrative and historical perspective, so I’ll allow it, even if it is a tad predictable.
By the end, there’s a lot to like about The Power. Corinna Faith uses a lot of familiar tropes and tricks to scare, which I’ve mentioned before, but it’s forgivable because of how she pulls off the rest of the film. The score is intense and uses a disorienting chorus of whispers to unsettle and unnerve the viewer. Both the art and costume design sell the period setting exceptionally well. Color and light are used to paint a more dynamic and exciting picture of how good and evil battle. This leads me to my biggest praise: the climax. I love that the climax happens in a nontraditional manner. Horror can get stuck in its ways sometimes, so seeing something like The Power is refreshing.
Once it picks up steam halfway through, The Power becomes a thoughtful and tense supernatural thriller with an unconventional third arc structure. I’m always a fan of a good horror metaphor and mixing the themes of The Power with a unique period setting makes for a memorable watch. It’s a well-made and entertaining film that, at times, even gets frightening. It’s strong message about power, complicity, and finding your voice is both timeless and hopeful, even amidst the terror. Well worth the watch, The Power will have you scrambling to keep the lights on at night by any means necessary.
Overall Score? 7/10