The Power is one of the newest British horror productions coming to Shudder, and sees a young, inexperienced nurse falling prey to dark forces.
Set in 1973, The Power shows a time in Britain where things weren’t particularly great. Thanks to a number of factors the early seventies saw restrictions on electricity, which resulted in power cuts, and the three-day week. This is where we meet Val (Rosie Williams), a young nurse fresh out of school who’s just started work at a worn down and struggling hospital.
Val, a former orphan, knows how hard it is in the local community, and wants to work in the struggling hospital to help those in less fortunate conditions; something that she has experience with. Despite trying her best to fit in and win over some of the staff she manages to annoy the Matron, and gets herself put onto the night-shift.
Whilst this doesn’t seem like too much of a punishment, the blackouts make it a lot worse. As the majority of the patients and staff are moved out for the night Val is left to attend Intensive Care with one other nurse, Babs (Emma Rigby), whilst the rest of the hospital is left dark and empty. Unfortunately, during the night a terrifying presence makes itself known to Val.
The setting for The Power is what initially drew me to this film. Hospitals are creepy places; it’s not their fault, it’s just something that’s true. They’re places where, unless you work there, you only go if you are sick or dying, or you’re going to visit someone who’s sick or dying. Other than the occasional good thing, such a births, they’re places that have unpleasant connotations for most people, and this film acknowledges that. Add in the pitch black corridors and empty wards, and this place that’s already unsettling becomes downright scary. As one of the nurses in the film says, ‘a place people die in should never be allowed to get that dark’
The scenes where Val is having to navigate the long halls of the hospital with only a small oil lamp to light her way are some of the creepiest parts of The Power, and really help to build atmosphere, and if the film made more use of this atmosphere I think it would have done really well; unfortunately, things become a little less scary as they get more overtly spooky.
Once the dark presence starts to make itself known, grabbing Val and throwing her around, the film starts to lose a little something. The moments of quiet, of looming threat were great, but once the characters are having their clothes tugged or being possessed to do certain things the scares seem to lessen. I loved the mystery of not knowing what was in the dark with Val, or checking out every shadowy corner to see if there was something lurking there; her lashing out at people because a ghost was making her do things is not so much fun.
That being said, the film does pretty quickly introduce a mystery element once the haunting becomes more apparent, and Val finds herself having to try to get to the bottom of a dark secret in order to save herself from the evil spirit that’s tormenting her. It’s something that’s pretty standard fare in ghost films, that the spirit is lashing out to get the protagonist to do something it needs help with, and The Power doesn’t really add anything new or unique to this formula.
The Power had a pretty strong start, and benefited from a fairly unusual setting and some strong acting, particularly from lead Rose Williams, but thanks to the over reliance on jump scares over atmosphere, and a plot that didn’t push for anything new, the film never really rose above ‘okay’ for me.
The Power is streaming exclusively on Shudder from 8th April.