Fear of the dark is one of the most universal and earliest fears that most people experience in their life. There’s just something unsettling about the unknown, and in the absence of light, it reinforces that fear. Movies like Darkness Falls and Lights Out have tackled the subject similarly, but neither were quite as atmospheric as Shudder’s latest exclusive movie, The Power.
Set in January 1974, The Power deals directly with the famous (or infamous) power blackouts that stretched across London that year. There’s an entire socio-political backstory involving unions, the government, and the economy, but for the movie it serves as a focal point of the plot later on.
We meet Val (Rose Williams), a young nurse about start her first shift on the ward. Unfortunately, it was a time in which nurses were still treated as servants (complete with the headpiece) and she’s told very firmly to not even speak to doctors and she’s to just follow orders without question.
But striking up a conversation with a young doctor gets her in trouble with her superior (who’s quite uncompromising), and she ends up being forced into the night shift, which will inevitably coincide with the blackout.
Much to her dread, she’s forced to care for patients, and deal with animosity from coworkers, all while navigating in the dark, very creepy hospital, with nothing but lanterns for light. Soon she discovers that the hospital holds deadly and supernatural secrets, which are either real or figments of her impending madness!
Who’s Afraid of the Dark?
A lot of horror movies struggle with lighting in the sense that filmmakers want them to look dark in order to inspire fear, but it leads to audiences being unable to see what’s happening rather than being scared.
The Power struggles with this a bit, but makes the most of its setting, almost making the hospital feel like a character. As Val walks down long, empty corridors, her lantern really only lights her own face, and it’s everything around her we can’t see, which is very much the point.
By far the movie is at its scariest when something isn’t jumping out and it’s just Val’s dread that we can fear. She sort of spends the whole night tense with anxiety. Most of the actual scares are adequate for a supernatural ghost story, but nothing particularly unique or special.
The main point the movie goes for is Val uncovering some of the unsavory secrets of the hospital itself, but the movie doesn’t really go far enough into them. But as far as creepy, old, abandoned buildings go, it’s an absolutely terrifying location, coupled with legitimately beautiful cinematography and attention to production design.
While the “ghosts” themselves can be hit or miss, just the idea of walking alone in the dark will both intrigue and have some audience members sleeping with the light on after watching it!
The Power is streaming exclusively on Shudder