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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Power


Starring: Rose Williams and Emma Rigby
Distributor: Acorn Media International
RRP: £19.99


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 27 September 2021

Acorn International Media in conjunction with Shudder releases the British supernatural horror thriller The Power for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK. It is January 1974, a time of strikes and energy shortages culminating in semi-regular blackouts. Val is a newly-trained young nurse who is assigned to an old hospital in London’s East End. Consequentially, she is bullied and ends up with the ‘dark shift’. During these government pre-announced periods, nearly all of the staff and patients are moved to another area. A small maternity unit and Intensive Care patients that can’t be moved are all that is left. Plunged into darkness, Val immediately begins to experience strange phenomena. The caretaker/orderly is creepy enough, but there is something else going on here – something sinister which is intrinsically linked to the past. With no one willing to believe or help her, Val is truly alone. But there is a worse revelation to come...

The bare bones of this story revolve around a revenge plot from beyond the grave. That makes it sound shallow and far from original. However, it is the explored characterisations and social issues which feed it more substance. Firstly, Val is bullied as the newcomer. The black sister proves stern and unpleasant throughout, except for the moment when Val seeks to escape. You would think this wouldn’t ring true in reality, because undoubtedly she would have suffered racist remarks at some time in her life. But the title of this film refers to more than simply the supernatural presence. It is about everybody’s attempt to gain or force status, and the only way that is possible is down through the ranks rather than up. So, the lower-ranked nurses force their will on the new-starter. That is a fact of life, even though we live in enlightened times. The doctors and surgeons in this context hold the greatest power in the hospital and, as they say, total power corrupts totally.

I must say that I smiled at the sight of a Maternity Ward with three babies, and an Intensive Care with no one of any authority watching the shapes in the beds. The film makes its point, however. You often wonder in some movies why the protagonists don’t leave the building and run a mile when their lives turn into a constant nightmare of supernatural activity and violent or threatening behaviour, but it is established early on in The Power that Val was an orphan brought up by a religious children’s home. This is her only prospect, and if she doesn’t succeed long enough she could end up back on the streets. Of course, as she discovers at the end, that isn’t always the most important priority. The tagline: ‘Fear the darkness inside of you’ is also misleading. It should state: ‘Fear someone else’s darkness in you.’ Rose Williams is pretty good as Val; her innocent persona is so understated that when we get to see something contrary it is much more effective.

In short, it’s an interesting little film which explores the inner psyche as much as the outward plot. Special Features include a Commentary by Corinna Faith and Rose Williams, and a Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery.


Ty Power

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