We all know the feeling: it’s the first day in your dream job and – darn it! – you go and get yourself possessed. Imagine the nicknames in the staff room!
That’s the nightmare scenario greeting idealistic young nurse Valerie, fresh out of training and clocking on for her first shift in an East London hospital, in The Power, the latest movie from streaming service Shudder. We’re in the dark days of the miners’ strike, a period in which evening blackouts were instituted to save power, and the 1974 of The Power may as well be 1947. The hospital is one of those huge Victorian things that looks like it couldn’t ever be warm, the nurses still wear long linen caps and the staff are demotivated, sexist, racist, uncaring and – in the case of Emma Rigby’s Babs – downright cruel. This, we quickly understand, is not the NHS we know and love today.
When Valerie butts heads with the joyless Matron (Diveen Henry), she’s made to stay on for the blackout shift caring for the patients who couldn’t be transferred away. And, lo! A horror movie situation is born. Valerie, played with childlike vulnerability by likeable Rose Williams, is soon being tugged at, perved on, attacked and possessed as she rattles around the hospital from hell getting more and more scared. And scares come easily in a pitch-black abandoned hospital filled with creepy weirdos, so it’s disappointing how often The Power feels the need to resort to cliché, like eyes scratched out on portraits, kids scribbling black clouds in jotters and what is, at heart, a typical ghost-with-a-message plot. Not necessary when those inky black corridors create their own monsters in the shadows.
Indeed, it feels, at times, like you’re watching a harrowing episode of Call The Midwife, but writer/director Corinna Faith does pull it round from an aimless middle to a really satisfying conclusion – and one that has something to say about real world horrors, too. Watch it with the lights off and a bottle of TCP for sniffing.
- Director: Corinna Faith
- Starring: Rose Williams, Emma Rigby, Shakira Rahman
- Release date: April 8 (Shudder)