It is objectively hilarious and enraging that people considered the #MeToo era ‘modern day witch trials.’
Holding men responsible for their crimes is hardly comparable to the slaughter of innocent people because people deemed them witches. Sexual assault and harassment accusations, which most of the men admitted too, leading to arrest or a ‘loss of career’ is hardly a mirror of the countess of women burnt alive so many decades ago. Using this wicked and abhorrent time in history as a metaphor to stopping violence against women seems maddening.
Director Charlotte Colbert has tackled both witches and this supposed cancel culture in her latest horror film She Will. The movie stars Alice Krige as actress Veronica Ghent who has just undergone a mastectomy. With her nurse Desi, played by Kato Eberhardt, Veronica heads off to a retreat in Scotland. However, the trauma of the surgery opens up old wounds of a traumatic past. As the violent history of the lands starts to bleed into Veronica’s psyche, she is about to uncover a magic that is rooted in the rage from centuries ago.
Colbert’s thematically dense but brilliantly executed film creeps onto your skin. It grips you with a whirlwind of historical and modern imagery. A woman with mastectomy scars interacts with muck that twinkles with starlight. A fire burns and poisons a man of murky violence. A woman tied to a tree, tarred with unduly punishment, begs the future to help her. It is grimy, visceral piece that looks at how history shapes our present and how the world shapes our bodies.
Leading the film are two impeccable performances from Alice Krige and Kato Eberhardt. They are kinetic together and charge the film with a giving emotional relationship. Their sharp and generous relationship, the blossoms from indifference to a strong bring a superb emotional depth to the film. Krige is spectacular at exploring the different themes that permeate throughout. Especially using her body to connect with the lands. Caked in mud that is mythologically presumed to contain the remains of supposed witches murdered, Krige happily bonds with the ground and the woods. Veronica’s secrets are unearthed alongside the legends that stalk her visions and soon she becomes one with this wide tapestry of earth and fire. Veronica, and therefore Krige, holds this rage beneath her tightly wound lips so the finale becomes earth-quaking. This potent performance from Krige is breath-taking.
Eberhardt’s Desi, then, becomes an icon for the new generation. The androgynous woman who is there to help Alice is a mysterious character with a hidden sexuality and personality. Desi’s time in the retreat sees her own struggle with sexual violence and the metaphor for the continuation of horror that women face. But with Desi, there is courage. After her own conflict, Desi starts to feel the visceral power of the hills and woodlands. Though she drives away in anguish, you get a sense that Desi’s future is promising. Eberhardt is perfect as this plucky but mighty character.
Eberhardt and Krige’s changing relationship throughout the film is brilliant and their chemistry will sparks upon the screen.
She Will is a haunting and it will stay with you long after viewing. The film can be muddied at times, particularly in the beginning, but it is rooted in a superb foundation and grows into branches, clawing under your flesh. It blends the violence of today with the fires of the past and connects that agony to a larger tapestry. As star dust seems to linger in the mud and charcoal that smothers Veronica’s skin and starts to seep into Desi’s world, She Will reminds us that this power is still within us women.
A power that has been passed down by the generations before us. A power that we can unlock to strengthen our weary bones.
A power, as She Will reminds us, that is a hope for the future.
She Will is playing as part of the BFI London Film Festival
Buy your tickets now!