Directed by: #NataschaGraham
Written by: #NataschaGraham
How She Kills is a short, simple monologue about surviving an abusive relationship. Performed by Marie Wilson, it explores a woman’s experience with her narcissistic ex-partner, and her eventual escape from a situation that left her feeling depressed and hopeless. It is delivered in one take directly to the camera, with a plain background and no soundtrack. As such, Wilson’s performance has to carry the film, which it does, admirably. She is expressive and convincing, and she makes her character’s story very compelling. Her performance elevates the unfortunately lacklustre script.
The monologue is mostly expository. There are no complex or interesting writing choices – and in fact many choices feel trite and familiar – no moments that allow the audience to deduce further information, nothing beyond a factual, if emotional, account of the protagonist’s experience. There is nothing wrong with this, of course; this is a serious topic, and survivors deserve stories that are authentic. However, as a piece of creative writing, as a dramatic monologue, it fails to be gripping by itself. Wilson, aided only by a piece of paper for a prop, makes it worth watching, but alone it may not be worth reading.
In the film, the protagonist’s ex-partner is explicitly called a narcissist. There is no implication that she was violent, but rather an overbearing, manipulative, controlling abuser, who took every opportunity to gaslight and demean the protagonist. The script at times feels like an educational resource on how to discern if a person has narcissistic personality disorder, complete with a list of behaviours, and the protagonist’s announcement towards the end of the film that she has decided to share her story in order to help others who might be going through something similar. This disorder is real, and the topic is too complex to be fully explored in such a short space of time, but that is not the purpose of How She Kills. We are focused on the story of someone who has survived an abusive relationship, not the story of how or why someone became an abuser.
There is little else to say about How She Kills. It works as a monologue, as a controlled, effective piece of acting, while being let down by an unimaginative script. It also tackles a very important issue, and for that it does deserve praise.