Film Review: The Power

A young nurse on her first day of work.

The UK economy was beset by high levels of inflation throughout the 1970s. As a response, governments capped public-sector pay, leading to unrest within trade unions. Eventually resulting in work-to-rule followed by strike action by the National Union of Miners. The response from Edward Heath’s Conservative Cabinet was to introduce a three-day week. Power outages and blackouts became regular occurrences and hospitals had to resort to using batteries and candles. This is the setting for The Power.

Val (Rose Williams), a young woman with a past she’s struggling to leave behind, begins her first shift as a nurse in the dilapidated East London Royal Infirmary. With most of the staff and patients evacuated to other hospitals, she’s made to work the night shift. The only light is in the intensive care and maternity wards. However, with just a few skeleton staff in the building she has to face up to her greatest fears in order to confront a malevolent presence.

The Power is an impeccably made period horror which immerses its audience within the social and economic context of the era. This sense of malaise is captured beautifully through the lens of Laura Bellingham’s cinematography. Writer/Director Corinna Faith takes today’s gender politics and transcribes it into a historical timeframe, with mixed results. Whilst it’s clear that The Power doesn’t merely relate to electricity, it feels like the message is more important than the story. And whilst the tale is in itself fairly entertaining, it never quite has the intended impact.

The Power premieres on Shudder on 8 April.  

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