After hearing that a man charged out of the Sundance Film Festival clamoring in disgust, I figured this would be another Serbian Film or Cannibal Holocaust but The Woman doesn’t come anywhere close. It’s every bit as shocking and disgusting but it’s everything those films aren’t. There is no other film I can compare The Woman to. It’s bold, original, and unlike anything I have ever seen. Movies about civilized folk trying to civilize animal-like individuals living in the wild always reach the center of our hearts. However, The Woman will break your heart and I think we know by now that there’s no such thing as transforming crazed fruitcakes in the wild into civilized human beings. This is actually a sequel to The Offspring and based on a novel written by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee. To avoid confusion, I recommend viewing The Offspring first.
The Woman is a movie that explores cannibalism, incest, misogyny, and rape. A country lawyer kidnaps the last remaining member of a brutal, bloodthirsty bunch that has terrorized the Northeast coast for decades and keeps her chained up in his basement. He introduces the woman to his family and they all have their own part to transform her into a civilized woman. The father may be civilized on the outside but on the inside, he’s anything but. This man is the epitome of evil. I think he and my ex husband should go bowling. You may ask yourself why a family would take part in chaining a violent stranger up in the basement but this is no ordinary family. They may seem like it but they have deep seeded problems. Even without the woman chained in the basement, there aren’t enough therapists and counselors in the world to fix this family.
The performances were noteworthy. Sean Bridgers may not look like David Hess but he made me feel every bit as dirty as Hess made me feel in his films, God rest his soul. His performance as the father, Chris, was frightening but he also gave us some comic relief without ruining his overall performance. The son’s performance by Zach Rand was just as hate-able as Bridgers. This sexual deviant is every bit as fucked up as his father. The hand should be turned onto this boy’s bottom, not across the mother’s face and in between his daughter’s legs. That’s how you know when the actors have delivered. They play the parts so convincingly, it’s easy for you to hate them. Angela Bettis is a McKee regular and she never disappoints as a lady in misery. Her skeleton-like frame even fits perfectly with her roles. The woman is played by the stunning Pollyanna McIntosh. This woman will scare the crap out of you. It’s impossible to get those angry eyes out of your memory. Anything with gross, decaying teeth speaking gibberish scares me although I couldn’t help but notice she isn’t sporting armpit hair, a mustache, or leg hair. The seventies bush even looks slightly trimmed on the edges. Also, is she wearing a mouth guard? It’s hard to believe that any man will want to stick his dick in that but in his defense, they did bathe her first. Lauren Ashley Carter surprised me as the oldest daughter Peggy. I would like to keep an eye on this gals acting career because she has tremendous talent. The youngest girl, played by Shyla Molhusen, is so innocent and delightful. They call her ‘Darlin.’ Even in a scene where she is licking blood, she was still the most adorable thing I had ever seen. The teacher’s performance was my least favorite. Carlee Baker has a degree in theater so maybe she does have talent but I thought she was lacking in this film. There’s a scene in particular with her talking to another teacher (seemed like a janitor to me because he came off as slightly mentally retarded) while having a cigarette and talking about how it’s not normal for teenage girls to wear baggy clothes. This was the worst acting in the entire film.
The pacing will please those with short attention spans but if you feel like giving up, try to hold on a bit longer to see the climax of the film. It will not disappoint. It’s graphic and in some respects, comical but not too comical. It’s still very shocking and dramatic. The scene that really touched me the most would be when Sean Spillane’s “Distracted” is playing and it shows the emotional trauma the oldest daughter and mother are feeling, mixed with shots of the woman’s eyes and a convincing breakdown from Peggy. This was all edited perfectly with the soundtrack.
It’s impossible to critique this film without mentioning that catchy and bizarre soundtrack by Sean Spillane. The songs stuck in my head after one viewing. Even now I am listening to the soundtrack while writing this. There are a few songs I didn’t find fitting like the introduction of the woman, I expected a darker theme. During the rape scene the song “Patient Satellite” was an odd choice and I didn’t like it at first but after watching it again, I think it’s perfect. How does one choose the right rape soundtrack? “Cause if I’m cool, you will see the light. And if I’m true, you will see that I’m right and you will be alright.” Lucky McKee says the the film was edited with these songs in mind. Even the God damn sound effects were edited perfectly. The sound of the woman pulling her chains were quite effective along with her growls.
Lucky McKee is one of my favorite horror directors and one of the nicest men in the industry I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I interviewed him before production on this film had began and he didn’t give me a title but he informed me that Angela Bettis would be involved. Two years later, he gives us The Woman. Well done Lucky.
The special effects were particularly convincing thanks to Robert Kurtzman and David Greathouse. The acts of cannibalism were so disturbing and realistic, it made me think of Anthropophagus the Beast, although it’s not quite as disturbing as Anthropophagus. It would be wrong of me not to mention that fantastic scene where a young individual is cut in half, trying my best not to include spoilers.
I wont go into a long debate about feminism and misogyny. If you’re feeling bored, go to The Woman’s IMDB message boards and read the arguments because they’re HILARIOUS! In the end, I wanted to see the male characters get what’s coming to them and die horribly and I got more than I expected. I believe fans and haters will be debating this film for years to come. Other critics have found themselves in the middle of unwanted drama on the comments section for their review because of the possibility of misogyny. Is it wrong that I laughed a little when Angela Bettis gets slapped the first time? HEAR ME OUT! Sean Bridgers just slapped her so casually after she asked a simply question. It was so random. I don’t know why that made me laugh. Does that make me a bad person because I am a woman? No. I don’t believe so. It was the way the scene was carried out. I do not condone hitting women and I encourage battered women to get out of that nasty situation for your children’s health and safety.
The Woman received seven awards; Best Screenplay at the Sitges-Catalonian International Film Festival, Audience Prize and Best International Film at the Strasbourg International Film Festival, and four awards at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival including; Best Editing, Best Horror Film, Best Villain, and Most Disturbing Film. It isn’t Oscar worthy or the best horror movie I’ve seen but it’s one of the best films from 2011, a shitty year for film if you ask me and I highly recommend it to those with a strong stomach.