Why I took them off the list: For my third Double Feature review from Sitges, I’m taking a look at two arty horror/drama films with some great performances.
Earwig IMDB description: “Somewhere in Europe, mid-20th century. Albert is employed to look after Mia, a girl with teeth of ice.
Mia never leaves their apartment, where the shutters are always closed. The telephone rings regularly and the Master enquires after Mia’s wellbeing. Until the day Albert is instructed that he must prepare the child to leave.”
She Will IMDB description: “The film explores the story of Veronica Ghent (Alice Krige) who after a double mastectomy, goes to a healing retreat in rural Scotland with her young nurse Desi (Kota Eberhardt).
She discovers that the process of such surgery opens up questions about her very existence, leading her to start to question and confront past traumas. The two develop an unlikely bond as mysterious forces give Veronica the power to enact revenge within her dreams.”
Review of Earwig
I remember being sort of impressed with Innocence (2004), the first feature film from Lucile Hadžihalilović, as a teenager. Athough I didn’t always completely understand what was going on at times and thought that it could be slow, I also thought that Innocence was eerie and atmospheric, and had some gorgeous shots.
Like that film, Earwig doesn’t exactly spell out what it is happening and like a lot of David Lynch’s films, it leaves things open to interpetation. It is full of startling and disturbing images and ideas, such as a little girl fitted with strange dental devices, a haunted painting whose contents seem to keep changing, as in The Witches, and a sudden and brutal act.
Among many other things, the fact the man responsible escapes from the scene seemingly without consequences clues us into the fact that Earwig is perhaps not exactly taking place in the real world as we know it. There are a range of interesting interpretations you can take from it, and that is something that doesn’t happen with a lot of films.
That is something Earwig has going for it, but this approach won’t be to everyones taste, and some other elements of the film may put people off, including the sudden, graphic violence.
Slow Pace That May Put People Off
Another problem I thought the film had was that the first 20-30 minutes of Earwig are are times very slow, and especially considering that the film picks up greatly after that, the set-up at the beginning feels like it could have been shorter. It seems to be a very long time before any hints of what the story of Earwig is going to be about appear.
But in the past few days as I think back on Earwig, I feel as though the film would maybe grow on me if I gave it a second viewing, much like David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive did. Speaking of Lynch, one scene set in a bar comes across as a creepy and appropriate homage to a sinister exchange from the director’s Lost Highway (1997).
There is also pleasingly surreal use of mostly confined locations and mist-shrouded exterior scenes that convey a confusing sense of time and place.
The acting is also good across the board, particularly Romola Garai (who directed last year’s Amulet) as an unfortunate waitress who goes through quite a transformation. Child actress Romane Hemelaers is very expressive as young Mia, and Paul Hilton impresses as the haunted man who seems to be living in a fugue state where he has forgotten his old life.
Worth Checking Out?
It depends, if you like David Lynch films, then you will probabaly enjoy Earwig and the process of piecing together what it all means. It feels like if it was trimmed a little bit, for example in the the slow first act, it would be a lot more satisfying overall.
Final score: 6/10
Written and directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic
Review of She Will
Alice Krige is one of the main reasons to see this Scotland-set horror/drama about an ageing actresas who discovers a new lease of life through an unlikely friendship, a trip to the countryside, and a connection to the land that seems to awaken something witchy within her.
After a clipshow of moments from some of her mostly genre roles, including Silent Hill and Star Trek, the veteran actress was warmly applauded by the audience at the screening before the film. And, like that montage, She Will was further proof that Krige always completely dissapears into her roles.
An Intriguing Debut Feature
I also really enjoyed the film for its vibrant Highland scenery and trippy imagery, and well-rounded main characters. The relationship that gradually develops between Krige and her live-in nurse is also a highlight of the film and gives it a lot of humor and heart.
One downside is that the strange phenomena affecting Veronica could have been explained a bit more. Another is that some of the supporting characters feel less well drawn and could have used a bit more development, including those played by Rupert Everett, Malcolm Macdowelll, and Scotland’s own Amy Manson.
But then again, although not to the same extent as Earwig, She Will can feel drawn out at times and there is already a lot going on. Perhaps there just wasn’t enough time to give all them all more of an impact without making the film feel even longer.
Final Score: 7/10
Worth Checking Out ?
Yes, Alice Krige is great in She Will and reason enough to the see the film, even if it feels like it loses its way in the storytelling towards the end. Still, the film is a promising debut from artist and director Charlotte Colbert.
She Will (2021)
Directed by Charlotte Colbert
Written by Kitty Percy, Charlotte Colbert
Stay tuned for my final Double Feature review from the 2021 Sitges Film Festival!