Fantastic Fest review: FEBRUARY

FEBRUARY POSTERKicking this year’s Fantastic Fest off, is director Osgood Perkins’ feature debut, FEBRUARY, a film that refuses to play today’s rules, instead opting to tell a slow burn and somewhat very non-linear tale of a young woman slowly becoming subject to the devil himself.

Focusing on Kat (Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka), a fragile young girl staying at a boarding school during the school’s break, and waiting for his parents to arrive, FEBRUARY has the ability to instantly let you know that you’re in for a slow yet entrancing, non-linear story of demonic alliance and eventually very brutal bloodshed. It’s a film that gives you small pieces of a very large puzzle, glimpses of twists and revelations that leave you as a viewer talking about the film for HOURS, completely and utterly under its spell. Along with Kat, who longs for her soon to arrive parents and looks to a priest for approval, we’re given two additional principle characters that are also very much a mystery to us, allowing its viewers to try to solve the at first, very soft and engrossing mystery. Rose (Lucy Boynton), a friend of Kat’s, fears that she may be pregnant and Joan (a very good Emma Roberts), a soft spoken but kind girl who is also forced to confront situations that may or may not be directly led to Kat’s slow descent into being led by a demonic entity. How all three of the girls’ lives play into each other is such a great thing to witness and each one provides the performances of their careers to date, elevating the film to not just a good genre film, but a very gut punch of a film in general.

Knowing more about the film’s plot does its ability to calmly possessive you a disservice, to spoil a single bit of the puzzle’s twists and absolutely shocking ending would just not be fair. What can be said though, is how absolutely impressive Perkins is as a director. The first time feature director isĀ able to drawl you in, get you comfortable for a while, and still let you know that things are slightly off. His abilityto give horror fans a quiet tale that eventually turns up the horror heat to a maximum degree is so unique that that slow-building dread that the director provides gives you a breathe of fresh air.

It’s a quiet film, led by atmospheric building tension, combined with three wonderfully played performancesby the film’s three leads. The real shining star of the film though, is the jaw-dropping Kiernan Shipka, who delivers one of the scariest performances in recent horror history. Her ability to slowly take on her loss of identity shows on her face, and when the film’s darker second half kicks in, it’s impossible to take your eyes off of mezmerizing performance that Perkins was able to get out of a very talented up and coming actress.

FEBRUARY is a slow-burn gem, a scary and terrifyingly effective tale of Satanic possession that leaves you feeling like you’ve witnessed a true horror classic in the making. It’s one of the best horror feature debuts that I’ve seen in a long, long time and it’sobvious the Perkins is a force to be reckoned with, so BE READY.

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