She Will (2022) Is an Atmospheric Tale of Retribution and Discovery
Title: She Will
First Non-Festival Release: July 15, 2022 (Limited Theatrical Release)
Director: Charlotte Colbert
Writer: Kitty Percy, Charlotte Colbert
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Starring: Alice Krige, Kota Eberhardt, Malcolm McDowell
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
After a successful double mastectomy, Veronica (Alice Krige) takes to a remote countryside estate to participate in a retreat. Along the ride is her recently hired nurse, Desi (Kota Eberhardt), who Veronica warms up to as they are confronted with the reality that her solo venture is actually a group retreat when they finally make it to the forest villa. Begrudgingly, Veronica stays and participates but finds herself experiencing bewildering dreams and strong psychic connections to the elements around the woods. The duo learns that the deluxe mindfulness sanctuary is built over property that saw the execution of witches centuries ago.
Immersive atmospheric direction and subtle storytelling allow She Will to rise from the ashes of typical pitfalls of slow burn horror.
Bold direction and hypnotic imagery play a larger part in telling the story behind She Will than standard dialogue and action. Intuitive viewers will be able to discern the important plot points by minding the little details present in the film. The narrative doesn’t need to explain everything to the viewers because writer and director Charlotte Colbert does an impressive job of showing without telling. Quick flashes of history books and interweaving timeline nightmare sequences, She Will is steeped in moments that speak power to the story Colbert is telling.
Anchoring talent Alice Krige commands the screen with her understated performance as Veronica. When introduced, it’s clear that Veronica is independent, strong-willed, and furious of the idea that she needs to accept help from others. This sets up her dynamic with Desi excellently while allowing Veronica to grow more. Both Colbert and writer Kitty Percy, find little moments showcasing Veronica’s defense mechanisms to extrapolate her mindset pre-surgery. Declarations of hating kids, her desire to be alone, and defensiveness of men disregarding women’s issues are addressed without having to beat the audience over the head. By the end, Veronica’s true nature and intentions are revealed. She Will subverts expectations by crafting Veronica’s unique response and ending without betraying the power unleashed.
Elemental by nature, She Will imbues the mystical nature of witchcraft and the sordid history of violence against women with a modern-day version of a witch hunt. The term witch hunt can be controversial depending on who weaponizes it, but it takes on a new meaning in this film. Veronica’s purpose of reconnecting with herself at this retreat is amplified with the deeper wounds she must heal. Once she physically grounds herself by touching the earth and feeling the pain of its history, she heals from her mastectomy, but also her past trauma. From there, born of fire and fury, she can confront the darkness that has been lodged inside her for decades.
Less metaphorical, but still keeping in line with the theme, She Will pays attention to the wind and water just as much. A storm keeps Veronica at the retreat long enough to begin her journey, as she would have otherwise left in a moment of embarrassment and anxiety. The importance of elemental witchcraft cannot be overstated in this film as it comes into play for nearly every plot point and deeper metaphor.
Typically, big name producers that are used to advertise films don’t have much of a real presence in the behind the scenes. It’s clear, however, that famed filmmaker Dario Argento, is not just a marketing gimmick but a guiding light for the film. She Will features plenty of impressive dream sequences and visually rich set pieces that resemble the giallo films Argento is famous for making in his heyday. It’s clear that Colbert finds inspiration in the wavy storytelling, dramatic confrontations, and fascinating imagery that is found in Argento’s, and other similar filmmaker’s, works. She Will uses this general template to create a pulsating slice of witchy retribution and catharsis.
This dark fantasy horror is not for everyone. It is a slow burn and ambiguous tale of revenge that is sunken deep in feminine rage, so it is bound to split some hairs depending on what audience members are expecting. It doesn’t give easy answers and the stakes are undefined until its scorching finale. She Will does tend to focus on its dream sequences and uses it as a crutch for horror. Thankfully, it still works for the most part, as one of the recurring plot points involves Veronica being unsure if her dreams are real or not as well as lucid.
An impressive feat of deliberate horror, She Will climaxes into something darkly fantastic in the most provocative of ways. Strong leading performances from Krige and Eberhardt hold the film’s more bizarre elements down confidently. Their development, both individually and together, is the glue that holds together the film’s admittedly thin plot. Meticulous direction and stunning cinematography build a deliciously moody and atmospheric horror experience that compares to the simmering psychological slow burns of the 70s. She Will is an immersive experience that works best when you give yourself over completely and let it engulf you in its witchy clutches.
Overall Score? 7.5/10