Exclusive Coverage and Stills from the Los Angeles Premiere of The Woman
With director Lucky McKee’s The Woman bowing in limited theatrical release via Bloody Disgusting Selects on Friday, October 14th, Dread hit its LA premiere last Thursday, October 6th, at Laemmle Sunset 5 in Hollywood, CA, and chatted with the film’s director on the red carpet along with stars Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Zach Rand and Carlee Baker. We also brought back some ocular candy. Read on!
“It’s pretty crazy!” director McKee, whose previous and touted directorial efforts include the 2002 film May, 2006’s The Woods and the Masters of Horror episode "Sick Girl", said of the buzz surrounding The Woman (review here). “I’m excited. I’m amazed to be here on Sunset Boulevard. When I was in film school (at USC), we used to come here all of the time to see cool stuff.”
No stranger to subversive material, Dread queried the 36-year-old director as to what expressly attracted him to the project, a film which stands as somewhat of a sequel to the 2009 Andrew van den Houten-directed feature Offspring, which was penned by long-time McKee collaborator and author Jack Ketchum and stars Pollyanna McIntosh as ‘Woman’ (returning here to reprise the character in the sequel’s titular role).
“I really liked what Pollyanna did in Offspring, and I liked that character that she created,” said McKee, “and when they asked me what direction I’d like to go with the sequel, I said that I wanted to go a complete 180 degrees, and I’d like to take the villain from the previous film and turn her into the victim and ultimately the hero. To have villains (in The Woman) that are people that look like you and me was really exciting (too), and not just people in a bunch of monster makeup or any of that kind of stuff. The project was very inspired by things like Shadow of a Doubt by Alfred Hitchcock. That monster that might be living right next to you is really interesting to me.”
Produced by van den Houten and Robert Tonino and co-written by Jack Ketchum and McKee, The Woman revolves around successful rural lawyer and family man ‘Chris Cleek’ (actor Sean Bridgers), who upon stumbling upon a feral, forest-dwelling woman captures and detains her in his cellar in an attempt to ‘civilize’ her (although his personal machinations are anything but civilized). The on-screen abuse which ensues has led to much controversy following the film’s handful of screenings, evidenced in particular by the outraged response by a filmgoer at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year (the incident was taped and subsequently went viral and undoubtedly assisted greatly in creating the buzz surrounding the film). There’s a bit more going on under the surface in The Woman than your average ‘torture porn’ film, however (The Woman has unfairly by some been labeled as such).
“That type of concept can only carry you so far,” mused McKee of the majority of the films which fall into that category. “I want to make three-dimensional characters. That’s the number one priority in anything that I do. I mean, we had an interesting concept about what it means to be civilized, and the shades of gray in between and all of that, but to me if you don’t have real people functioning within that, then why would you give a shit?”
“The character of ‘Woman’ is actually what we (as humans) came from,” the director continued. “I mean, she’s close to our animal selves. I found that endlessly fascinating because I think that a lot people have lost touch with the fact that they are animals. I mean we all are. We walk and talk and wear cool clothes and all of that kind of stuff, but we are still animals, and we still have to survive, but we know what we are doing (as humans), and that’s what’s scary. We have a consciousness, and well, animals have them, too.”
As for the scripted actions of the film’s father, a character which drives the film into subversion, McKee commented, “People are just the scariest thing on the planet to me as far as I concerned.”
Given the darkness of the material, we asked McKee of his approach, particularly in working with the film’s younger actors who portray the lawyer’s emotionally and physically abused brood.
“I took it really seriously,” he stated. “I made sure that I picked kids that were mature enough to handle it, and who had really good parents that were able to help me shield them from the things (in the script) that they didn’t need to know about. I had to design the shoot in a certain sort of way to make sure that the kids weren’t around anything that I felt was inappropriate, and that’s filmmaking though, so it was a really fun challenge. They (Zach Brand, Lauren Ashley Carter and Shyla Molhusen) are good kids, and they are really good actors.”
As for what’s next on the filmmaker’s plate, McKee said, “I’m writing. I’ve been touring with The Woman all year, but hopefully by this winter I’ll be able to prepare for my next thing, although I can’t say what it is, but I’m really excited about it.”
“Is it a genre piece?” we prodded.
“It’s just my type of film,” answered McKee. “There will always be dark elements to any film that I make. The Woman is just about as dark as I’ve ever gone, and I think maybe (with the next one) I need to push towards the light a little bit just for my own soul, you know?”