“The Blackcoat’s Daughter” (A24)

Kiernan Shipka stars in a scene from the movie "The Blackcoat's Daughter." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/A24)

By Catholic News Service

Stylish and very adult demon-possession drama set at a Catholic boarding school in the dead of winter. There an old-fashioned fiend, complete with two horns, inhabits a glowing basement coal furnace and uses a hallway pay phone to command a gloomy freshman (Kiernan Shipka) to carry out murderous sacrifices.

Writer-director Oz Perkins keeps the gore factor comparatively low, emphasizing instead slow-building psychological horror, spooled out slowly through interlocking, time-shifting plot lines which also take in the lives of another current student (Lucy Boynton) and a former one (Emma Roberts). It eventually falls to a kindly priest (Greg Ellwand) to bring some clarity to the mayhem, although the film is so vested in its deceptive ending, Christian belief is only pro forma.

An occult theme, knife violence with some gore, occasional profanities, fleeting crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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