In 1970s Britain, as the government and trade unions were warring, blackouts were regularly ordered to conserve power. During one of these pitch-black nights, a timid young woman named Val (Rose Williams) finds herself working the dark shift on her first day of duty as a trainee nurse at a run-down London hospital. The writer and director Corinna Faith doesn’t wait for the lights to dim to unleash the uneasiness in “The Power.” The creaky, eerie atmosphere is felt even in daylight as Val starts to hear children’s indecipherable whispers. “A place people die in should never be allowed to get that dark,” one nurse says, anxiously building up the frights to come, which work to a mixed degree.
When the lights do go off, the terrors ramp up with bent finger joints, bodily fluids and a heart-pounding synth score when a disturbed spirit latches onto Val. Faith displays a familiarity with the language of horror with these spectacles and shots of ghostly reflections that effectively play with the notion of a spectral possession. She also nicely complements supernatural tensions with hostile human ones as Val clashes with other employees, namely the hospital matron and an old friend who also works as a nurse. But Val remains so wide-eyed and naïve for so long that you spend most of the runtime wondering when she might grow a backbone.
By the final act, “The Power” reveals a double meaning with its title, with Faith introducing a feminist-bent social commentary — it refers not just to electrical power but the manipulative kind. Unfortunately, that message and the previous happenings feel so disjointed that the film stumbles in delivering a cohesive vision.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. Watch on Shudder.
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