GORE IN THE STORE
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SHE WILL ***
Directed by Charlotte Colbert.
Starring Alice Krige, Malcolm McDowell, Kota Eberhardt.
Horror, UK, 95 minutes.
Released in cinemas in the UK by Vertigo Releasing on 22nd July
It is hard not to get a little excited when the title card “DARIO ARGENTO presents” appears at the start of Charlotte Colbert’s feature debut SHE WILL. Set in the style of the credits of his master work SUSPIRIA one would expect an exercise in style that would rattle the nerves and get the blood pumping. Colbert certainly deserves on the former but her tale of supernatural female anger is far more restrained with the latter than you would hope.
Alice Krige plays Veronica, an aging actress still fondly remembered by the public for her debut role as a teen in Navajo Frontier, a classic film directed by Malcolm McDowell’s Hathbourne. Recovering from a mastectomy, Veronica retreats to the remote countryside of Scotland to heal at a therapy centre secreted away in a vast forest. Annoyed by the fact that the centre is nowhere near as empty as she was promised, filled with a number of flighty patients under the care of Rupert Everett’s flamboyantly pretentious resident artist/therapist. Dealing with the trauma of her surgery and flashbacks to her abusive relationship with Hathbourne, Veronica soon falls under the spell of the surrounding countryside and its own history of female trauma that infects and haunts the woods around her.
This is a mostly successful melding of supernatural horror and feminist anger with style to spare. Colbert holds back on virtually all expositional dialogue, preferring instead to tell her story and its occult leanings through visual storytelling. For a debut feature director there is a confidence and skill on display here that works extremely well. The narrative often takes a turn for the dreamlike as Veronica’s recovery and sense of justice for the wrongs done to her in the past are aided by the ghosts of the woods around her in elliptical visual passages aided by Clint Mansell’s reliably excellent score. Eagle eyed viewers may notice that Colbert often wears her influences on her sleeve with the train journey North more than reminiscent of the one taken in Gore Verbinski’s A CURE FOR WELLNESS and one bedroom levitation scene that will be far too familiar to anyone who has seen SAINT MAUD.
As ever Alice Krige delivers a performance that reminds the audience of just what an underrated actress she is. Her brittle characterisation of Veronica gives way to something warmer and ruthless as she reclaims her body after all the trauma it has gone through not just medically but for her career at the hands of men like her one-time director played by McDowell in a role that seems to have some not-so-subtle nods to his own strenuous collaboration with Stanley Kubrick.
While very much a post Me Too genre film there is a sense that Colbert does not really know when to let loose. For all its supernatural trappings and social injustice there is a distinct lack of real fury, concentrating instead on a lukewarm resolution to the relationship between Veronica and her put upon nurse Desi, a character played by Kota Eberhardt who never really holds the viewer’s attention or interest in the way that Krige so effortlessly does. Also, for a horror film there is a distinct lack of tension or peril. Despite this, Colbert’s sense of style still manages to carry the viewer through this debut that marks her out as a director to watch in the future.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans