Release date – 22nd July 2022, Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 35 minutes, Director – Charlotte Colbert
After a double mastectomy an aging actress (Alice Krige) finds herself confronting past and present traumas in an isolated Scottish wellbeing retreat.
There’s a large selection of ideas at play within Charlotte Colbert’s horror feature debut She Will. It pushes the feeling of a selection of genres also at play. Jumping between drama, horror and mystery for ambiguity when it comes to the central figure of aging actress Veronica (Alice Krige). After a double mastectomy she’s checked in to a quiet, forest-located health retreat in Scotland where while attempting to relax and recover she finds herself facing traumas of her past, particularly relating to affects on her career. Her relationships are tense with both the other, perhaps more outgoing, faces at the retreat and the young woman looking after her, Desi (Kota Eberhardt). However, as Veronica begins to recuperate and face the major events and traumas of her life shadows are cast on those around her, and particularly those who may have claimed to have forgotten her.
This particularly comes in the form of Malcolm McDowell as celebrated director Eric Hathbourne, who caused much of a teenage Veronica’s early trauma. Each time McDowell appears on screen there’s something of a surprise due to the fact that within the short 95 minute run-time he’s on screen for what feels like very little time. With only a couple of brief scenes it’s easy to genuinely forget that he’s even in the film. Such scenes appear to make a big deal of his character, and yet this feeling is conflicted by just how little he appears on-screen and the handful of references back to him we get. He largely feels like something almost unrelated to the rest of the film, apart from the various references to his dark relationship to Veronica, which he appears to have casually buried under a self-protective veil of ‘it was a different time’.
Instead we see snippets of ideas and moments in Veronica’s time at the retreat and the cabin in which she stays in. Attempting to take part in activities with other people looking to recuperate their mind and souls, through charcoal drawing outings by the nearby lake. There’s much of the piece focusing on drama before leaning into slight patches of horror, however with the various ideas at play – including an eventual side strand for Desi as she gradually grows slightly closer to the woman she’s initially only meant to bandage up, etc.
Throughout the short 95 minute run-time there are plenty of moments and ideas that are seemingly glued together to form strands of narratives, however there’s never anything to properly hook you into the piece as a whole. It causes a lack of connection to the film and the effects that it has when it comes to moments of horror. During such scenes, particularly in the latter stages of the piece, the main question at hand in terms of mystery is ‘what is actually going on?’. It boils down to a core narrative and characters that feel lacking in detail. There are points, particularly within the rushing nature of the third act, where you feel as if you’ve missed out on something as you try to figure out where this new burst of potential horror has come from. Where almost everything from the previous 75-80 minutes or so crashes together for a conclusion.
It’s one that feels much like the rest of the film. A jumble of themes and ideas, uncertain as to whether it’s supposed to be scary, mysterious, eerie, creepy or all at the same time, or perhaps none? It’s a long stretch building up to it as you feel disengaged for much of the run-time having connected to little and been unsure as to what to feel about a handful of scenes within the collection of moments and ideas. The core points of ambiguity and uncertainty are often as to what’s supposedly going on within the briefly hinted potentially supernatural beats, pushing the question of ‘what’s meant to be happening here?’, and ‘wait, Malcolm McDowell’s in this?’.
Providing little to connect with amongst the tonally imbalanced ideas collected, She Will never really brings you in to feel the effect of any of the horror and drama at play.