The Woman (2011)
Directed by Lucky McKee
Oddly enough, I think I was one of the few who watched Andrew van den Houten's The Offpsring, the original movie The Woman is a sequel to. I gave it a "C" which is the equivalent of 2 spinkicks. I originally wrote:
"What the book and Ketchum tried to hint at is that these cannibals are like locusts and it’s in their nature to kill. Moreover, the “civilized” ex-husband versus the uncivilized cannibals act eerily similar when their lives are on the line. That’s the connection you should have made but the movie fails at this and all we’re left with is kid on kid violence for the sake of shock value."
With The Woman however, that connection is clearly made and the shock value is amped up to give you a fuckin punch in the nuts. What you get is a film that clearly satires the -ism it puts front and center and spews a vicious gore appetite, the squeamish may just walk out of the theater (which is what happened in Sundance).
Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum with The Woman challenge your perceptions of civility by sending you scene after scene of what misogyny and sexism looks like on gamma radiated steroids. It's disgustingly violent and atrociously hard to watch but in this disturbed suburban nightmare, father demands he knows best and some may actually may agree. I was truly mesmerized by this tale of satire-sploitation. It's a film with exploitation characteristics but has so much to say as well.
The Woman will clearly be a "love it" or "hate it" film. It's a satire of the cookie cutter American family and the values they teach to their children. Even in this odd set up of a feral woman being "civilized", there is black humor and a few chuckles. The movie attacks traditional gender roles and the woman in The Woman maybe not be who we think she is. I have to say, it's a masterpiece of Americana horror satire, a film you have to respect because it hints at a truth that we all want to deny is real.
Family man and lawyer Christoper Cleek (Sean Bridgers) must do what he can to protect his family when he comes into contact with a feral woman (Pollyana McIntosh) living in the woods near his isolated country home. Through a series of harrowing encounters Cleek and his family quickly discover there is more to this woman than anyone would suspect and that sometimes the devil wears a handsome face.
Let's get the nuthshell plot out of the way. We meet the Cleek family, Chris (Sean Bridgers) our alpha male, hunter and lawyer father, his wife Belle (Angela Bettis) who plays the obedient house mom, their daughter Peggy whose having teen issues that could be featured on MTV, their son Brian, a clone of his father and wee Darlin (their youngest).
Meeting this functional family in suburbia, one can only believe their is more to them than meets the eye. Chris is a motherfuckin patriarch of patriarchs. He is a throwback of man and he has "civilized" his family to know their roles. Discipline is handed out in physical abuse, where a Rick Flair "Woooooo!" would be said after every slap. When Chris discovers a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) in the woods, his instincts (sexual) and other wise get raised and he decides to bring her home to the family for her rehabilitation. Like a sick dog, the family does has dear old dad tells them to.
Soon the dysfunction is hitting everybody in the family. Dad's being too comfortable with our savage in the cellar, son is becoming like dad and the the boiling point of mom is breaking. Secrets are revealed and the final 30 minutes are off the charts on the WTF scale. The Woman is a play on how those red states might believe is what America should be, spewing the same hate on the airwaves and brainwashing their children to do the same.
The performances are top notch with McIntosh delivering a seething anger through incomprehensible dialogue and emotional vengeance stamped to her face. She is beautiful but deadly and shows a flair aiken to Jenny Spain in Dead Girl. Bridgers is stellar as the misogynistic father who unleashes fury to get his respect. Bettis has a memorable scene when she unleashes her vent up frustration and anger. Great overall performances by the cast all around.
The Woman has a feminist agenda for sure. It dabbles on the identity of gender roles, maternal instinct and how compliance is just as deadly when nobody questions authority. It's easy to ask why nobody questions their father's judgement. But one should ask how savages can act civilized while we in the modern world do not. We cover our savagery with colorful dialogue, double entendres and we give B.S. reasons for our abuse.
The Woman shows America's contradiction in a bloody gory horror movie. When you remove the blood and gore, what you get is an examination of how mentally savage we might be. That's almost as sickening as seeing our Woman slaughter her captors.
Random neck trauma
Slice and diced
The lovely Pollyanna McIntosh gets naked (full frontal) multiple times
The family's secret
The last 15 min
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
The Woman is headed towards my Top 10 Horror Movies of 2011 for sure. I was a little scared this wouldn't live up to the hype I gave it. It is the definitive Lucky McKee movie, the one that hovers above 76% on Rotten Tomatoes and deservedly so. No horror movie this year has made wince, cringe, nauseate and think all the same time. See The Woman.
Check out the trailer.