There seems to be a portion of horror fandom that has forgotten how horror films have been vehicles for female empowerment for QUITE A LONG TIME. I read a multitude of reviews following last year’s Shadow in the Cloud where fans were heavily criticizing the film’s empowerment slant. Likewise, I’ve been hearing early rumblings from those same detractors about Corrina Faith’s The Power. Now, I’m no “social justice warrior”… I think both sides of the coin have a lot of growing up to do, personally, and more often than not find myself gravitating towards the middle as I feel more and more alienated by the farthest ends of most movements. That being said, get over it. We have been privy to decades of shitless male machismo flexing its muscles and with half the population able to bring children into this world, I will happily share my horrordom with strong female voices. Especially since, well… its always been a cornerstone of this genre, anyways.
The Power follows Val, a young nurse eager to secure a job in her field amidst the 1974 British electricity rations. Getting off to a rocky start with her superior, Val is put on the night shift, a dreaded assignment as breakdowns with trade unions have led to a period of darkness where generators power just the necessary life saving equipment and lanterns are used just about everywhere else. Trauma from Val’s past manifest’s itself in the darkness and soon it becomes apparent that she is being haunted by far more than just her memories.
I can see Corrina Faith being criticized for her depiction of male characters in the film, but a deeper dive into the film’s themes shows an across-the-board toxicity of how lesser represented people in the workforce are often walked on by everyone that seizes the opportunity, male and female alike; more pressure being placed on the latter to ensure that their positions are cemented in a largely male-led hierarchy.
If you think this might seem a little heavy handed for the casual viewer, these are not new themes and Faith does not force feed any of these values to the viewer. All of these elements work to develop our lead character and propel the underlying mystery at the film’s core forward.
The Power works best when it shows the least. The moments where the film is literally drenched in darkness are its strongest and those moments work to create a very real and heavy sense of dread that permeates the majority of the movie’s length. Lead Rose Williams sells Val with a zeal that shines in both Val’s meek personna and her more over the top portrayal of a woman assaulted by a paranormal vengeance. The film is also singularly possessed by its own narrative, never wasting a second as it both scares and leads the audience to solve its riddle. There’s a lot for horror fans to like here and for those who know that horror’s voice has always been one that loves it’s female driven tales of murder and madness, The Power comes highly recommended.