Film Review: THE WOMAN (2011)

Film Review: THE WOMAN (2011)

Aug 13, 2016

The Woman (2011)
Review by Jude Felton

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The Woman was the eagerly anticipated collaboration between author Jack Ketchum and director Lucky McGee. The movie that stirred up a monumental pot of shit, thanks mainly to a looney at the Sundance Film Festival crying about it, which in turn helped the publicity department to no end. If you haven’t seen this fella’s rant, just Google it, you’d think that The Woman was the beginning of the Apocalypse transformed into a movie, which it isn’t. The Woman probably will ruffle a few feathers, as it is a bold and confrontational movie, but you have to remember we are dealing with a movie that Jack Ketchum co-wrote, and any movie will have to go a long way to even come close to the power of the novel The Girl Next Door, or even the excellent movie adaptation.

Controversy and hype aside I will admit to have been looking forward to watching this as soon as I heard that Lucky McGee would be working with Angela Bettis again. These two just seem to work so well together, their 2002 movie May still being one of the best horror films of the past decade.

Onto The Woman then, not literally of course, and what we have is a very simple plot that has many different layers to it. Lawyer and family man Chris Cleek has the perfect life, or so it seems, he lives in the nice big house in the country, has his doting wife and loyal children. So, on the surface it might seem strange that whilst out hunting upon spying a young feral woman he decides to capture her and tie her up in a cellar on his property. His plan is to “civilize” her by fair means or foul, mainly the foul side of things. His family doesn’t seem to think that there is anything wrong with this, his son worships him, his eldest daughter has her own worries and his wife just accepts it. It is not until the movie progresses and the layers are unraveled that the true horrors are revealed in this brutal movie.

If you go into this movie expecting a bloody and violent exercise in pure horror you may find yourself a little disappointed. Sure, it is brutal and it does get quite bloody but it isn’t quite as straightforward as all that. The focus is more on the actual characters than in trying to shock and offend, which it could well do. Sean Bridgers, as Chris Cleek, delivers a cold yet personable performance, you know there is something very wrong with him yet it takes time to really uncover the depths of it.

The Woman is also a movie of contrasts with many scenes having a seemingly out of place soundtrack that conflict with what is taking place on screen. To me this seemed to be a very deliberate way of manipulating the viewing experience. Initially this put me off yet I ended up thinking that it made perfect sense.

One argument I can see be leveled at The Woman would be that it is an incredibly misogynistic movie. However, from my point of view, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Woman, and women, are all the focal points of this movie and yes for the most part they are treated fairly horrifically, but this is a movie that needs to be seen in its entirety for all the pieces to fall into place. It is though a movie that will be interpreted differently from viewer to viewer, and from female perspective to male perspective, as Ketchum and McGee force you to confront the onscreen horrors.

The Woman is certainly not your typical kind of horror movie, there are echoes of The Girl Next Door amongst others, and it does require a certain amount of patience to appreciate its full and devastating power. It is uncomfortable, violent and unsettling viewing, pretty much everything an effective horror movie should be.

The Woman is an excellent and confrontational movie and as such comes highly recommended from me.