New nurse Val (Williams) turns up for her first shift at the East End Hospital in London. It’s 1974 and electricity blackouts mean that at night most patients are transferred out of the Edwardian building.
Val and three other nurses are left to look after the remaining patients. There’s a generator running medical necessities but outside pools of light, all is very dark.
Val is afraid of the dark. It reminds her of the bad things that happened to her in the orphanage. But there’s something else out there in the darkness beyond the nurses’ station. Something beckoning Val. It’s angry and has an urgent message for her.
Almost all the action takes place in dim hospital corridors. There’s something spot on about the consistency with which the institutional interiors are explored. The camera, like Val, seems to fixate on dark openings, the places where visibility fades. The unsettling feeling before the terror kicks in arises from the uncertainty of what is half seen.
Rose Williams is really effective: first as the innocent young woman with a history of being bullied, disbelieved and worse; then as the possessed angel of vengeance in the last third of the film.
Her face is especially good at registering then shrugging off the sexism, racism and snobbery that comes her way from almost all members of the hospital staff, from creepy consultants to entitled male doctors and nurses eager to better themselves.
The plot gets nicely twisty and fast-paced in the third quarter. I didn’t see a lot of what was coming. Writer-director Corinna Faith cleverly uses an insistence on Val’s back story to wrong foot the viewer.
It will be really interesting to see what Corinna Faith does next. Rose Williams is well on her way after her lead in Sanditon.
The Power is out on DVD, Blu-ray and digital on 27 September 2021.