Witches are fascinating monsters. While there are a few tropes we normally associate with them (like boiling cauldrons and long, pointy hats), their rules aren’t nearly as set in stone as the rules of other monsters like werewolves and zombies. Instead, filmmakers pretty much have free rein to create their own witch mythologies, and that’s part of the reason why I was so intrigued when I first heard about She Will. The trailer promised a beautiful and creepy witch movie but left the specifics intentionally vague, so I couldn’t wait to see this new take on these classic characters. And now that the wait is finally over, I’m happy to say that the film does not disappoint.
She Will was directed and co-written by Charlotte Colbert, and it stars Alice Krige, Kota Eberhardt, Malcolm McDowell, and Rupert Everett. It’s about an aging movie star named Veronica who travels to the Scottish countryside to recuperate after a double mastectomy. While there, she learns that the land where she’s staying was once used to burn witches, and that dark history gives Veronica the power to enact revenge on the abusive men in her own life.
Right from the very first frame, I could tell that She Will was going to be gorgeously shot and beautifully atmospheric, and I was right on the money. In fact, those elements largely carry the movie for the first 20 minutes or so. That part of the story is all set up, so nothing particularly exciting or horrific happens. It just introduces you to the characters and the setting, so it relies entirely on its acting, atmosphere, and cinematography. And thankfully, all three elements are excellent. They kept my eyes glued to the screen for the entire first act, so I wasn’t bored for a single second.
Then, at about the 20-minute mark, Veronica begins to have strange supernatural visions, and that adds an extra layer of intrigue to this already captivating film. It’s not entirely clear what exactly is going on, but you can definitely tell that these odd phenomena are somehow related to the place’s dark past.
Soon after Veronica’s visions begin, the movie begins to draw parallels between the land’s dark past and the way a lot of men treat women today, especially in Hollywood, and as you can probably guess, those parallels aren’t flattering. Now, I found this element of She Will particularly interesting because it uses the idea of witch-burning in a pretty refreshing way. Most witch films that harken back to that era portray the women accused of witchcraft as actual witches, but not this one. Instead, this movie depicts them as what they really were: persecuted women. Granted, this isn’t the first film to ever portray the reality behind witch-burning, but it goes against the grain enough that I still found it to be a welcome change of pace.
On top of that, the movie also uses that reality to show that the problem hasn’t gone away entirely. Sure, we don’t accuse women of being witches and burn them at the stake anymore, and our society as a whole is definitely less misogynistic than it used to be, but much like the problem of racism, we still have a lot of work to do. There are still way too many men who just use and abuse women as objects for their own selfish pleasure, and She Will does a great job of highlighting that sad truth.
All that being said, I did have one tiny problem with the second act of this film: It’s pretty slow. While I don’t mind slow burns, there was a moment or two when I wanted it to pick up the pace a tiny bit. I still really enjoyed the acting, cinematography, and atmosphere, but I felt that the story could’ve progressed just a little more quickly.
However, that’s a very minor flaw, so in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of She Will. I was still completely on board for the first two acts, and I was really excited to see where the story would go from there. Now, I obviously don’t want to spoil the ending, so I’m not going to say what happens, but I will say this: the movie mostly sticks the landing, but it could’ve done more.
From this review alone, you probably already have a decent idea of how the film ends, and I felt the exact same way while watching it. The point of this entire story is pretty obvious, so it’s not hard to guess how it plays out. However, it doesn’t do exactly what I was expecting. More specifically, it doesn’t go quite as big as I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great as far as it goes, but as I said, it could’ve done more.
But at the end of the day, I was still really satisfied with the ending I got, and I felt like She Will absolutely nailed the most important thing: the message. Even though it could’ve done more, it did more than enough to solidify its pro-woman message, and that was enough for me. So all in all, when the credits began to roll, I was a happy man. While this movie isn’t perfect, the characters, cinematography, atmosphere, and message make this an all-around excellent horror film, so if you’re looking for something new to watch, I highly recommend that you check this one out.
She Will hits VOD and limited theaters on July 15.