By: Shannon Page
Canadian filmmaking veteran Larry Kent’s She Who Must Burn, which was directed by Kent and co-written with Shane Twerdun, follows a nurse for planned-parenthood (Sarah Smyth) who refuses to leave her clinic even after it is shut down by the state. Her persistence puts her at odds with the town’s fanatic, evangelical residents who believe that her commitment to a woman’s right to choose is a sin.
While the film is clearly aiming for edgy social commentary, the result is little more than shockingly shallow despite head-turning performances from a talented cast and a haunting musical score by Chris Alexander.
The violence against women in She Who Must Burn is sickening – but not in the way it was intended to be. Female characters are raped, tortured, and killed throughout the film. While these depictions of brutality aren’t terribly graphic, especially considering what audiences of contemporary horror films are used to seeing, they don’t serve a broader purpose. Violence – even in horror films – should be part of a larger project. For the scenes to function as something more, the audience needs to be given a reason to be emotionally invested in the characters. This is going to be a polarizing film that many viewers and critics will be compelled to defend based on its decision to tackle issues of abortion and religious fanaticism. Still, for a film about issues that directly affect the lives of millions of real-life women around the world, She Who Must Burn is uncomfortably outdated in its treatment of its own female characters.
She Who Must Burn screens at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival on:
Sunday, November 29 at 2:00 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema
For more information on the festival, visit the official BITS webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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