Charlotte Colbert’s debut film “She Will” portrays a woman suffering from physical, mental, and emotional pain. The protagonist, Veronica Ghent, played by Alice Krige, is a forgotten movie star who was at the peak of her career when she acted in the 1969 film called “Navajo Frontier” at the age of 13. Her first and most beloved film was directed by English director Eric Hathbourne (Malcolm McDowell, known for his role as Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange“). At present, the star that once shone brightly has completely faded away, and the irony of her life is that everyone recognizes her, but no one knows who she is. While Veronica Ghent goes through a double mastectomy and faces the pain of old age, the movie director Eric Hathbourne plans to make a remake of his most prestigious film, “Navajo Frontier,” and thus is on the hunt for another 13-year-old girl. The tabloids are filled with the news of the director and the lead actress of the 1969 film, and none of the publications misses a chance to post “Then and Now” pictures of Veronica Ghent. For a movie star whose most of her life is spent doubting her looks, such news about her appearance is no less than a nightmare, and hence, soon after her operation, Veronica decides to move to Scotland from London. She calls this trip a healing retreat, but her pain is much more emotional than physical. She is still traumatized by an incident from the past, but the tabloids keep reminding her of the name and the face that brought such terror into her life. What is Veronica running from? And will she ever be able to find peace in her life?
Charlotte Colbert’s film is a collection of some visually enchanting symbols and metaphors, which can indeed be perceived as the confusion in Veronica’s mind. She is old, and with age comes such chaos. She looks arrogant on the above and wants people to believe that she doesn’t care much about the world. But deep down, she is struggling to get over her past and her insecurities. Charlotte puts such a deeply traumatized person at the center of the screenplay and then brings in supernatural elements as a catalyst to help her transform and become the person she wants to be. Most evil spirits are attracted to tormented souls, and who could be a better vessel for them than Veronica Ghent? In her silent retreat, she comes in contact with spirits, and like Veronica herself, the spirits of these women, too, have suffered at the hands of tyrannical and misogynist men. Veronica and the spirits of the witches share the same pain; thus, they help each other to bring down a common enemy.
‘She Will’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Soon after her operation, the former movie star Veronica Ghent boards a train to Scotland along with her private nurse, Desi Hatoum. The tabloids in London are constantly printing about the remake of the 1969 film “Navajo Frontier,” and Veronica doesn’t have anything to comment on. She has just undergone a double mastectomy and is apparently insecure about her physical appearance. She doesn’t want anyone to know how she looks, and so she books a cabin in the woods to be left alone for a while. She wants to stay away from the human world and wants to spend time in a place where no one recognizes her so that she can stop pretending and throw away the mask that she has been wearing all her life. Her insecurities can be depicted by the fact that even before stepping down the train, she wants to wear prosthetics so no one will know about her operation.
However, as Veronica and Desi arrive at their booked retreat home deep in the woods of Scotland, Veronica finds out that there are other guests there who have come for a vacation in the winter. They quickly recognize the forgotten star, and soon Veronica’s anxieties kick in. She wants to leave the place but cannot escape as there is no cellphone signal to call the driver who will drive them back. Veronica and Desi decide to spend the night in their cabin, and at the location, Desi arranges a hot water bath for her ailing patient. While Veronica is resting in the bathtub, a black mud-like substance drops suddenly into the bathtub from the tap. It quickly enters Veronica’s body, thereby infecting her physically and mentally. The substance takes over her body and mind and reminds her of the faces she wants to eagerly forget. In one vision, she gets a glimpse of her teenage self brutally assaulted, and in the other vision, she sees her director, Eric Hathbourne. Desi hears Veronica scream and quickly enters the bathroom to comfort her. She takes her to the bed, hoping she will feel better, but it is just the beginning of one long nightmare. In her dreams, Veronica gets visions of a cult of witches standing in front of a big bonfire.
The next morning, as Desi wakes up, she finds a patch of sticky black mud near the couch. Even Veronica, who comes out of her room, finds this black mud and black ashes on the windows and reveals to Desi that she had a bizarre dream last night. Desi perceives it as a side-effect of her surgery and asks her to go out to get some fresh air, but Veronica can very well understand that something is happening with her and everything is connected to this black mud that has infected her body and soul. The film further explores how these spirits in Veronica’s body remind her of the revenge that she has been yearning for years and help her to achieve it. But what is it exactly that Veronica wants?
What Was The Black Mud? What Did Veronica Want?
The caretaker of the retreat home, Owen, told Desi that the black mud and black ashes found in the woods were the soot from the charcoal burning. However, a painter named Arturo Tirador informed his group that the mud or earth in these lands had a very high proportion of human ashes that came from the women who were burned as witches in the woods. As Veronica and Desi witnessed, there was a tombstone, or “Nighean’s Wall,” in the woods to commemorate the burnt. It was rumored that some 3000 women were burnt there, and the last of them were two man-eating women, a mother and a daughter, whom Veronica often saw in her dreams.
These lands were probably cursed, and these black ashes were the spirits or the witches’ medium to contact their potential vessels. However, any dark or evil spirits don’t just target anyone. They look for a tormented soul as they become easy prey and can easily be manipulated. In Veronica’s case, she was physically and sexually assaulted by her director, Eric Hathbourne. He probably exploited an underage Veronica when he first cast her in his film, and even after all these years, Veronica couldn’t forget those traumatic attacks. She didn’t want to face Eric again, as his name reminded her of all those things that he did with her, and hence she escaped to Scotland as Eric announced the remake of the film. Deep down, Veronica needed revenge, but what could an old woman like her do? She wanted Eric to confess the truth, but she knew it was impossible to get a confession from him. However, as the spirits of the witches gave Veronica enough powers to exact her revenge, she started following Eric like a shadow. Every night, while her body was asleep, Veronica’s soul could travel to any part of the land on earth, and for her revenge, she chose London, where her perpetrator was.
‘She Will’ Ending Explained: Did Veronica Take Her Revenge?
The film is a commentary on the hypocrisy of mankind. For example, take Arturo Tirador. He called himself a feminist, and at the end of the film, it was Arturo who took his group into the woods to celebrate Ullachaidhean, the burning of the witch. He called those women agents of chaos and believed that burning them was a victory against the demonic. Hence, in a way, he justified the burning of those innocent women in the name of beliefs a certain person might have spread in the past. Similarly, the film depicts misogynist men as assaulters who exploit women using their power and position. In Veronica’s case, it was Eric Hathbourne, while Desi was drugged and attacked by Owen in the woods.
There is also a question of why Veronica never raised her voice against Eric in public, which director Charlotte Colbert has simply answered through a powerful scene. In the group, when Veronica discussed millennia of patriarchy, one person called it a war cry of hysterical women. Hence, even if adult Veronica had gathered some strength during her 20s or 30s to tell the public about her exploitation, no one really would have believed her. Everyone would be quick to judge that the actress or woman is doing so to get attention as she isn’t getting any roles. Even now, nothing has changed, so Veronica had only one way to get her revenge: she had to use the powers that the dark spirits had given her.
Veronica had developed a soft spot for Desi, and she had previously saved her from Owen’s attack using her dark powers. However, Veronica had no idea what these powers were and was worried that they could harm Desi, too, so the next morning, she asked her to leave and never return. Desi followed her orders and left the cabin, and at night, Veronica went to sleep again, probably believing that it was her last sleep. She transported herself to a hotel where Eric was staying, where she finally faced him and asked him to tell the truth, but even at this moment, Eric was in complete denial. Hence, in a quick release of his temper, he pointed out the fact that whatever he did with Veronica was justified entirely as he was the one who gave him a chance to become a star. But does giving someone an opportunity to show their talent mean you can exploit them as you may wish? Well, that question is still up for deep discussion among intellectuals, but as far as the film is concerned, Veronica did get her revenge. As soon as Eric attacked Veronica and smashed a glass bottle on her head, her body dispersed into the black ashes, like a swarm, and it pushed him off the railing. Eric hit the ground hard and died on the spot. However, his death looked like a potential suicide.
Veronica, on the other hand, was slowly losing her soul and was about to die when Desi suddenly turned up at the cabin and woke her up. It can be speculated that for Veronica, taking revenge was the last goal of her life, and she would have probably sacrificed herself if Desi hadn’t saved her life. Soon after this supernatural interaction, Desi and Veronica left the woods and boarded a train to London. In the last scene of “She Will,” Desi is seen sleeping peacefully on Veronica’s lap as Veronica looks out the window and watches a cloud of black ash move away.
So the question arises: does Veronica still have the powers? Maybe she has, or may not. The black substance had infected Veronica’s entire body, and hence it wouldn’t just fade away. However, if we speculate that these powers or ashes could only operate in the woods where the women had been burnt, then, in that case, Veronica wouldn’t be able to use her powers in London. She might have to return to these lands in Scotland if she ever felt the need for them. But she might not need them again because she had accomplished everything she desired. To begin with, Veronica was now more uncomfortable in her own skin. After her surgery, she didn’t want anyone to see her without the prosthetics. However, after the spirits infected her body and mind, she embraced the way she was and looked at herself in the mirror, a visual that she was once afraid of. Secondly, Veronica had taken her revenge, and now the whole world knew that Eric had mistreated her while she was cast in his film. And last but not least, Veronica had a void in her heart that was finally filled with Desi’s presence. Probably because of her traumatic incident in childhood, Veronica never trusted a man again and never married or raised kids. She hated children, as she told people around, but once she stepped off the train in the opening sequence, the first thing she saw was a woman feeding her baby. Maybe Veronica yearned to express such motherly love to her own children someday, but it was too late, too late in many ways. However, in Desi, Veronica found a daughter. Giving away her mother’s necklace to Desi was Veronica’s way of accepting Desi as her own daughter. Desi, on the other hand, had lost her mother too, and quite tragically. Her mother’s death left a void in her heart, which was again probably filled by Veronica. Looking after her and caring for Veronica fulfilled Desi’s desire to be with a mother-like figure. Hence, in a way, both Veronica and Desi completed each other, and it probably was the end they both had been looking for.
“She Will” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Charlotte Colbert.