The Woman

This one was one of the movies I was most excited about seeing out of all of the offerings at the Dark Bridges Festival this year.  There was a big controversy over it when they showed it at Sundance with some guy standing up in the theatre and proclaiming that the film should be burned because it is so disgusting and misogynistic.  After watching it, the movie doesn’t disappoint, although I think this guy must not have seen many horror films because it certainly wasn’t anywhere near the worst or most offensive movie I’ve seen.  Also, I disagree with the guy claiming the movie promotes misogyny.  There are characters in the film which are certainly despicable and misogynistic, but they are clearly not people you are cheering for here folks.  Saying this movie promotes misogyny is like saying every movie with a villain promotes the behavior of that villain, only a fucking stupid child would come to that conclusion.

All that said, this is still some twisted and disturbing shit.  And like most of the Jack Ketchum inspired movies that have been made, this will definitely not be a pleasant viewing experience for many, which is exactly why I totally dig it!

One thing I wanted to mention is that a lot of people are talking about this movie like it is a standalone film, which isn’t really the case at all.  It’s actually the third part in a trilogy of books written by Ketchum. Off Season is the first, the second book (also adapted into a movie) is Offspring and third is this one, The Woman (apparently released in conjunction with the film). The trilogy is about a clan of feral cannibals who live in the woods and kidnap, murder, and eat people in the surrounding area (probably some rape in there somewhere I’m sure, it’s Ketchum so there’s gotta be rape). 

They even got the same actress (Pollyanna McIntosh) to play the feral woman in both Offspring and this one.  I haven’t seen Offspring in a little while, but I recall it being quite a bit more amateurish than this one, but I think I’ll have to revisit it again to see what I think about it in comparison to this one.  Lucky McKee directs this time, and I’ll have to check out some of his other movies I haven’t seen yet (I’ve read May is really good, although I wasn’t that impressed with his episode of Masters of Horror though).

I’ll definitely give Pollyanna McIntosh top marks for her performance in this one.  Despite one flub on the part of the filmmakers, you 100% believe this is a woman who has lived in the woods with no outside human contact other than to eat them.  She even has her own language which she snarls out throughout the movie that sounds like rabid caveman speak (I read in some reviews of Offspring that they’re speaking some form of Gaelic, but I’m no language expert so I can’t confirm that’s what was being spoken here).  She was awesome!

The flub I speak of?  Well they do a good job with making her filthy and dirty, with matted hair, tattered animal hides for clothes and rotten black teeth.  They even make sure she has a big untrimmed bush in the scenes where she’s naked, and physically she’s ripped, but not bulky, like a person surviving in the wilderness would be.  But despite all of this attention to the details of making her appear feral and primitive, she has clean shaved arm pits.  Really?  She doesn’t bath or brush her teeth and wears stinky tattered animal furs, but she takes the time to shave her pits?  With what, her fucking hunting knife?  It’s a small nitpick I know, but it did take me out of the movie somewhat.

The rest of the cast all performs just as well.  The way the father has a grip on his family using domestic violence and psychological terrorism is totally believable.  I give the actor who played him (Sean Bridgers) top marks for playing a truly slimy and revolting villain barely hiding beneath his smiling façade.  The sociopathic behavior of his loyal son was pretty chilling as well and the broken and meek mother (Angella Bettis, from Lucky’s other flick May I mentioned above) and daughter, terrified of their deranged father, were pitch-perfect.  When the movie beings and you haven’t seen any of the madness transpire you still know there is something not right going on behind the closed doors of that home just by the look on the mothers face and how she speaks to her husband. 

Toward the end the movie goes far more outlandish than I figure many people will expect, but upon thinking about it afterward you will probably come to the conclusion that people like this really do exist in the world. There really are twisted family units doing the sick things that happen in this movie out there.  I should also mention that having seen Offspring before this one, the ending made much more sense to me than it would for someone who hadn’t seen it going in cold, so I’d recommend at least familiarizing yourself with the plot of that one before seeing The Woman for a better experience.  I noticed that the audience I watched it with didn’t really know what to make of it, so a lot of them were laughing like the movie was being ridiculous when it really wasn’t in context with the overall story of the trilogy.

In terms of gore and sleaze this one rates pretty high, but probably not as high as many might think due to the controversy.  This is certainly no Martyrs or Inside, but when violence occurs, it is definitely 100% gruesome.  SPOILER: There’s one scene that was done so well involving the eating and swallowing of a finger that it put a big smile on my mug.  The Woman bites off, chews and then swallows the end of a finger whole and sheds a tear because of the discomfort from swallowing the bone, totally bad ass!  What probably disturbed more people is the psychological aspect of the film; this is one that is going to make people uncomfortable, which is good because too many horror films are made to be fun popcorn movies instead of grueling nightmares.

If I had to sum up this film via comparison for the uninitiated I think I’d say the movie plays out like a mix of Wes Craven’s People Under the Stairs and another Ketchum adaptation The Girl Next Door (or if you prefer An American Crime which was based on the true life crimes themselves rather than Ketchum’s book inspired by the crimes).  If you’ve seen one or both of those and “enjoyed” them, then The Woman will deliver.   HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!