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Rick McGrath [Film Festival 10.28.11] review horror

Year: 2010
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Rick McGrath
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

The Woman is a sort of cinematic sleight-of-story… you’re drawn in by the idea of a feral woman -- young, sexy, very dirty and perhaps willing to be tamed a tad – but by the time you’re halfway through your popcorn it becomes apparent this isn’t a story about Little Miss Feral Hood, but rather the sadistic bullying of a evil misogynist. There’s a name for this: bait and switch.

It is a disappointment. According to the preview bumpf, this is supposed to be about a family being placed in jeopardy while attempting to civilize the last of a clan of feral, violent humans. Cool. The possibilities seem endless – does she learn social skills? Wear clothes? Does she cleverly turn the tables? How is the family affected? Is she smart… too smart? Sorry, folks, none of that -- we’re not going anywhere new. Instead we get yet another chain ‘em up for torture story featuring a woman-hating Dad and lots of helpless female victims, with our unclean captive one of many. The fact she’s feral is immaterial, except for the opportunity to keep the makeup dept busy. As for the family in jeopardy… it isn’t our feral friend who’s dangerous – it’s good old fist to the face Dad.

Director Lucky McKee works very hard to balance off the dungeon-like horror in the root cellar with the bright and airy horror in the house, but unfortunately the feral bits aren’t quite as scary as the domestic scenes, probably because while Dad sees his captured woman as a reclamation project and sex slave, he sees his female family members as worker bees and punching bags. But no matter how you slice one woman and dice the rest, The Woman is yet another example of people being chained up and tortured.

The film is basically divided into three sections – first Dad finds, captures and imprisons the feral female, then he, and later his creepy son, sexually torture the woman. Finally, the wife revolts and the climactic scenes ensue. Here, the focus shifts to revenge, and all the bad guys are suitably dispatched, dead women are everywhere, a feral boy who thinks he’s a dog is revealed (huh?), and the wild woman takes off with the still-living daughters, one of whom is preggers. Let the amazon sisterhood continue!

As always, what makes torture porn fun is not the victim, but the waterboarder and his rucksack of psychopathic quirks. In this case, meet Dad, Chris Cleek, a tall, good-looking small town lawyer with a ready smile, a warm, helpful demeanor, and a soft, reassuring voice. He lives in a big country house with wife, Belle, son Brian, and daughters Peggy and Darlin’. He also keeps a lot of yappy dogs. Cleek is well played by Sean Bridgers, who brings just enough rational softness to his role to make him truly creepy in that what-will-he-do-next way, not only as an explicitly sadistic jailor, but also as the quick-fisted tyrant with a real hate-on for uppity females. All uppity females, as an unfortunate schoolteacher also discovers.

Our feral tomboy tart is played by Pollyanna McIntosh, who unfortunately is trapped in a role that only allows her to express hatred or be killer mean. Her makeup is gruesome enough to question why Dad has the urge to bonk her, but it also raises the question of why she never bothered to dip her face in any of the numerous creeks around. On the other hand, she does have big boobs. And shaved armpits. It’s hard to imagine how she has managed to survive unnoticed in a New England hardwood forest – does she hibernate all winter? – but then again she’s also a metaphor for the women in the house, and it all starts with a finger (penis) biting scene, so there ya go.

What else? Oh yeah, The Woman is also plagued with a particularly irritating soundtrack which mainly consists of emotionally oversung message songs that too strongly overlap the visual action. Jeez, we get it… And we also get this movie, which is essentially about yet another sadistic misogynist. The wild woman is simply bait. Don’t bite.

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j.j. (9 years ago) Reply

Lucky McKee directed MAY so I was shocked when this was winning awards everywhere. May was pretty awful. He's basically another Eli Roth. However I always hope for the best that bad directors can turn good so I will watch anyway but your review is refreshing.


Nick (9 years ago) Reply

May is a great film with an unforgettable ending, and while The Woman misses the mark it's really not fair to compare Lucky McKee to Eli Roth. Mr. McKee's films are ambitious and not the lazy gore/gabfests that Tarantino's lap dog puts out.

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