Fantasia Films Fest 2015 review: SHE WHO MUST BURN

shewhoHorror movies that delve into social commentary can be a tricky situation. While playing with visual metaphors is what good movies utilize, spreading a message can either be thought provoking or something to laugh at. The rich literally feeding off the poor in SOCIETY is very much in your face, but matches the movie’s campy tone and has developed a cult following. In a more subtle delivery, CANDYMAN tells of the spirit of a black man who died in the hands of racism. It’s through his story we are able to peek inside class and ethnic division that is unseen by those who live in a more privileged world. More recently, mental instability and the pain of being a single parent has never been so frightening thanks to THE BABADOOK, taking into question whether what we’re seeing is real or not thanks to an unreliable protagonist. In real life, some of the scariest people are religious fanatics as we live in a country that prides itself in religious freedom. The horror that comes with it is how far our freedom is allowed to go.

That leads to Larry Kent’s SHE WHO MUST BURN, a thriller that deals with the always controversial topic of Planned Parenthood. Angela is a counselor who runs a clinic out of her home, which she shares with her partner, Mac, who happens to be the Deputy Sheriff. In a town that appears to be frozen in time, the state takes away her funding and she refuses to quit. Local preacher Jeremiah is of course infuriated to not only find out she won’t leave, but that Angela has given his wife birth control. This is something he discovers after he rapes her in order to impregnate her despite her feelings of not wanting children. Jeremiah feels the rape is his Godly duty and beats her as a result and is a ticking time bomb after Angela aides his wife in finding a secret safe haven. This begins a deadly war between those who believe in a woman’s right to choose and those who believe God will decide for us.

I’m not a religious person, but would be very curious to have two people with opposing views on Planned Parenthood watch this movie then listen to that discussion. While the movie is an act of fiction and at times can feel a bit vanilla, it can hit close to home for those who fought internal struggles of where their moral and religious standards lie. In SHE WHO MUST BURN, the standards lie in religion for Jeremiah and his family, but they contradict themselves with acts of violence when what they are fighting for is to actually let life live.

Anyone who has driven by or to a Planned Parenthood has probably seen the protestors and the large white signs, sometimes displaying graphic images of aborted fetuses. Here, we get a fictional glimpse behind those faces in the way only a horror movie can get away with. If Kent’s film were to receive a more wide release, then it will be curious to see if the movie itself receives any controversy as the monsters here are those protestors we all see. Sarah Smyth plays Angela in a way that encourages viewers to root for her as she appears to be the only one who is not crazy. What really appealed to me is that she doesn’t play ignorant to the religious villains and shows plenty of compassion, but enough vulnerability that makes her relatable. SHE WHO MUST BURN is direct to the most extreme and it works. It’s restrained without holding back and presents

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  1. […] Icons of Fright finds, “SHE WHO MUST BURN is direct to the most extreme and it works. It’s restrained without holding back and presents.” […]



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