British-French multimedia artist Charlotte Colbert took home the award for best debut at the 2021 Locarno festival with this postmodern arty psychological drama-fantasy-revenge thriller about an aging movie star who will take revenge in an unusual way on those who once wronged her. Veronica Ghent (South African actress Alice Krige, who had one of her first roles in “Chariots of Fire”, and later acted a lot in horror films) is a former movie star who, accompanied by a young nurse Desi, headed to a resort in the Scottish highlands after a double mastectomies.
But instead of the peace, quiet and isolation that she hoped to find there, some kind of bizarre self-help guru (grotesque Rupert Everett) and his followers found refuge in the residence there. Veronica is not exactly thrilled with this knowledge, and in the end she and Desi will settle in the house where a mother and daughter once lived, who were burned at the beginning of the 18th century as the last Scottish witches. Even though they are the best days obviously far away behind Veronica, she still acts like a star, she’s arrogant, she’s eccentric, and she tries to be elegant and let everyone know that she’s extremely important. Everyone still remembers her for her first role in a cult film that she shot when she was still 13 years old, and to guess that she was then sexually abused by the director Eric Hathbourne (Malcolm McDowell) who is still a big face and is about to shoot a remake of the movie that made him famous.
Already on the first night in that house, both Veronica and Desi will start experiencing nightmares, psychedelic hallucinations, and that witch’s house seems to give the old actress some special power with which she will take revenge on the old director. “She Will” was one of those allegorical, visually made-up and stylized arty films, which is also a kind of satire on today’s new age trends of self-help, various gurus and life coaches who sell people balls under their kidneys. But at the same time, it is a mix of folk horror, revenge thriller and hallucinatory psychological drama that somehow floats along with the MeToo theme and a belated attempt to correct the injustice that women have experienced.
Everything that happened to her in her youth, Veronica, who behaves like one of those Victorian ladies, seems to have repressed and tried to forget, but it will all start to come back when she arrives at the resort and sees the cover of the tabloid on which her pictures are compared when she was young and how she looks now. Once she was young, beautiful, successful and famous, and she is aware that now she is old, almost forgotten, and illness and operations have additionally taken their toll so that Veronica feels less and less like a complete woman. However, something seems to be in the ground around the resort and the ashes of burned witches still float there, and that black magic seems to give her and her assistant some supernatural strength for revenge. As one of the producers of the film is the legendary Italian horror master Dario Argento, “She Will” visually seems somewhat kitschy and colorful in the footsteps of his films, and the music by the standard excellent Clint Mansell is an additional plus.