Review by Joseph Fayed
2022 has really been the year for actors in A24 films to take on dual roles. There was X and Everything Everywhere All at Once earlier this year, and now The Eternal Daughter which is a paranormal family drama starring Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton. Tilda is no stranger to play more than one character in a film, in her latest effort to do so it proves she has what it takes to pull double duty on screen.
The story follows mother and daughter Julie and Rosalind who check into a Welsh hotel. The hotel is quite remote and it seems the two are the only guests there. In the meantime, Julie begins working on a film about her relationship with her mother in light of her father's death just a few years prior. While there, Julie begins to hear strange noises and she and her mother begin to unravel a bit when the hotel brings back memories for them both. While there are familiar tropes from other paranormal films such as strange noises being heard and figures appearing in windows, the film avoids playing upon common fears, instead relying on the emptiness that the hotel has to offer.
Perhaps the most eerie thing the film has to offer is the memories the hotel brings back that are gradually revealed by Rosalind. As the film goes on and their stay at the hotel continues, Julie and Rosalind's buried feelings about each other reach its surface. There is no intense argument between the two of them, yet director Joanna Hogg really captures a different take on grief compared to other paranormal films.
Isolation is another theme that I think was captured beautifully by Hogg here. The quietness that the dialogue is spoken in followed by the decision to have both of Tilda's characters rarely share the screen together, although this could be attributed to the film's budget, allow this slow paced drama to be exactly that. Julie and Rosalind are not total opposites and neither of them try to spite each other so seeing the mother and daughter carry such guilt and remorse is what makes this film stand out in the horror genre.
The Eternal Daughter is not for one looking for jump scares or a jaw dropping twist in its final act, but there is still a sense of unease at how we are supposed to approach repressed memories. There is no definitive answer for that, but Joanna Hogg and Tilda Swinton do a good job at making you feel spooked by one thing, mother/daughter getaways.
The Eternal Daughter is now in theaters and on VOD.