‘SHE’ Frightfest Review

She Poster FinalFollowing Back To The Movies recent interview with writer/director Mark Vessey and ‘She’ herself, Fiona Dourif, we were eager to finally give the film a watch and see if it truly deserved its place on the big screen at Film 4 FrightFest 2014. So see what we thought, as we give our opinion on this brutal little production.

I want to start by saying yes it does deserve its place. A thousand times, yes! I enjoyed this, in fact no, I adored it. With a running time of just under fourteen minutes, I was apprehensive at first. How much story could be told in such little time? I was actually left amazed at how fluidly ‘SHE’ went from pulling at my heart strings to turning my stomach, all with a pinch of anger sprinkled in between too, as the finale arrives in a moment of playful suspense, the pay off every bit as brutal as they come.

There’s not much in the way of dialogue, but the sparse two person cast does a wonderful job. The acting outstanding as the performances of both Fiona Dourif (She) and Phillip James (He) bubble away and deliver us scene after scene of raw emotion. There’s fear, loathing, anger, and then, as the whole thing kicks up a gear for the finale, we whole heartedly join in, feeling the euphoria wash over us as ‘She’ finally has her moment. This film reminded me of a firework in a way, the fuse lit, the display entertaining, then finally giving us what we’ve all been waiting for, exploding into a graphic conclusion.

See ‘He’ isn’t up there with the best of boyfriends really. Definitely not a flowers and chocolate kinda guy anyway, and at its heart this about so much more than a stomach churning climax. Domestic abuse (both mental and physical) is, sadly, a very real subject and ‘SHE’ does a good job of highlighting the fact that you never truly know what’s happening behind closed doors. You genuinely feel Fiona Dourif’s fear as ‘She’ awaits the next disgusting encounter with her man. Whether sheepishly sneaking past his hulking frame or flashing him a nervous smile to keep the peace. Anything, it would seem, for a quiet life. Phillip James does an equally moving job, only it’s far from sympathy you feel for him. It’s hatred and anger that races to the surface as he stalks the scenes, the arrogant look of disgust for his woman never once relenting. I couldn’t help imagine how hard it may be for him to pick up the ladies after watching this.

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With a shooting schedule of just two days, you’d expect ‘SHE’ to have ‘amateur’ emblazoned across every speckled frame, the sound to have more crackle and pop than a bowl of cereal. So it’s a true testament to the talents of Mark Vessey and co-writer/director Chelsey Burdon, that the whole thing looks beautiful. The picture is clear and crisp, every scene lovingly captured, as these two up and coming writer-directors showcase the enormous talent at their disposal. Keep your eyes on these two. Great things await.

One thing is for sure though. As with many films before it, no matter how well written, how inspired the directing or how phenomenal the acting, the main talking point is set to be the rather grisly (and disturbingly realistic) finale. All I can say is, think ‘I Spit On Your Grave’ ramped up to 11! This was seriously up there for me, along with anything I’ve ever seen.

The use of practical effects making a mockery of the latest, generic, CGI drizzled efforts.

A film like this is a pretty good wake-up call in a way. It doesn’t matter how big a budget or which studio you’ve got distributing in Azerbaijan, what matters most is that everybody on board pours their heart and soul into a project they believe in. That’s what happened here, and that’s why I feel this could be destined to become a cult classic among its genre.

An absolute gem.

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