Alice Krige has never been a household name, but she's been doing consistently interesting work for decades, in everything from Chariots of Fire to Star Trek: First Contact to Gretel & Hansel. The new chiller She Will gives the actress an especially juicy, up-front role – one that she unsurprisingly nails. This is more arthouse horror than your average Conjuring-style scare show. In just over 90 minutes, you get a topical story about a woman coming to bloody terms with the mistreatment she's endured in her career.
Krige plays Veronica Ghent, a veteran film star who, in the best Garbo tradition, just wants to be left alone. Attempting to physically and psychologically heal from a double mastectomy, she ventures to a retreat in the Scottish countryside, assuming it will just be her and nurse/assistant Desi (Koba Eberhardt). When she gets there, Veronica is horrified to learn that other people are present. Although her inclination is to either leave or keep to herself, Desi convinces her to take part in some of the activities run by retreat leader Mr. Tirador (Rupert Everett), including an art class.
Two things happen next. One is that Veronica learns suspected witches were once burned to death on this land, and something from their ashes has subsequently embedded itself in the soil to which she is inexplicably drawn. The other is that she has recurring flashbacks about Eric Hathbourne (Malcolm McDowell), a celebrated auteur who gave her a breakout role at age 13 and may have done a lot more than that, if you catch the drift. I won't reveal how those elements tie together. They do, though, making this retreat healing for Veronica in ways neither she nor us could have imagined at the beginning.
She Will addresses the kinds of concerns that have become common in the MeToo era, without preaching to the audience or getting bogged down in message delivery. The gist is simple, as Veronica realizes she suddenly has the power to rectify a situation from the past that has continued to traumatize her. Of course, if she didn't take the opportunity, there'd be no horror movie. Nevertheless, the character's choice to confront what was done to her – and to let Hathbourne know she's making that choice – speaks to the kind of empowerment that benefits every abused, mistreated, or sexually harassed woman. Director/co-writer Charlotte Colbert nicely dovetails Veronica's situation with another that pops up for Desi, leading to one of the movie's most wicked scenes.
In the lead role, Alice Krige is superb, capturing Veronica's antisocial nature, then gradually peeling away the layers to suggest how this woman became the way she is. What's really great about the performance is that we initially don't like the character. She seems too prickly and mean. Then, as we learn more about her troubled past, we come to empathize with her enormously. Krige does that without softening Veronica's edges, as many performers might have been inclined to. In a picture that contains several very wild story elements, she keeps everything grounded, bringing a vibe that's real.
Aside from Desi, the other supporting characters are a little underdeveloped. Having them around more for Veronica to bump up against would have added an extra kick to the story. She Will still manages to deliver a number of awesomely creepy sequences that are integrated into a plot filled with meaning. And Alice Krige absolutely brings it to life with her vivid turn as Veronica.
out of four
She Will is unrated, but contains adult language and strong violence. The running time is 1 hour and 35 minutes.