Reviewed by Kalebson
Starring Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Angela Bettis, Lauren Ashley Carter
Directed by Lucky McKee
“Boys will be boys.”
For those not in the know, this truly disturbing film is the follow-up to Andrew van den Houten’s forgettable Offspring (review here), an adaptation of the book of the same name by Jack Ketchum.
With his film that was shot in a mere twenty-four days in Massachusetts late last year, McKee had the reckless intent to shock audiences with the reality and the fear encompassing misogyny, and he obviously succeeded based on the events which occurred at the premiere showing’s Q&A session. This negative publicity may have been the root cause of the low attendance at the third run of the film.
Picking up right where Offspring left off, The Woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) is walking in the forest nursing a stab wound she received in the previous installment. Exhausted and hungry, she happens upon a wolf’s den and nonchalantly enters. After dispatching the animal inside, we can only assume for food, she gets some much needed slumber. At the same time we are introduced to the Cleek family, most notably Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers), an estate lawyer and the “man” of the house. It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to immediately see that this guy has a few screws loose.
The following morning Chris goes hunting and stumbles upon The Woman bathing in a stream. Due to her wild nature he decides he is going to take her home like a pet and “tame” her. At his next family dinner Chris instructs his loved ones to clean the cellar as he is going to have a surprise for them the next day. After netting his prey, Chris chains The Woman up in the cellar like a pig going to slaughter. While introducing his family to his catch of the day, he instructs them on how they are going to care for her so she can become civilized. This causes a chain of events forcing The Woman to watch and learn in an attempt to release herself from her formidable captives and exact her revenge.
There have been many dysfunctional families in the horror genre from the Hewitts to the Hamiltons, and the Cleeks rank right up there with the best of them. Of the five family members the eldest daughter, Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter), possibly the worst victim, we find is pregnant and can only assume that the child was conceived via incest. The son, Brian (Zach Rand), is definitely following in his father’s footsteps while the wife (Angela Bettis) is the timid and meek housewife that is completely oblivious to her surroundings. This leaves us with the youngest daughter, who is also a victim, but more to the point, she is about 8 and doesn’t really understand what is going on.
The Woman as a whole is well acted by all represented parties. The cinematography is outstanding as well, really catching the intense, poorly lit events taking place throughout the roughly 100-minute runtime. The pacing is a bit slow at times, but the soundtrack by Sean Spillane, mostly recorded during shooting, is so perfectly composed that it helps speed the action along and adds to the intensity in practically every scene we have to try and not squirm to. The visuals and gore effects by veteran Robert Kurtzman are everything you would expect from a master, nothing short of outstanding, and likely where the largest part of the undisclosed budget went. Be warned, though … this feature is not to be taken lightly. The realistic portrayal of brutality will take control of your mind by the third act, leaving viewers with their own form of revenge-driven bloodlust.
When all is said and done, The Woman is a must-see for those that think they can handle the content. It is definitely not made for everyone. Certainly many of you have heard not everyone survived the opening night. Do not make this your date night with your significant other, lest ye be called a sadomasochist.
Although maybe not McKee’s intent, it may just open people’s eyes to the reality of what some women in our glorious world go through every day of their lives. McKee wanted us to feel dread. We did that. He wanted us to feel pity. We did that, too. McKee’s gut-wrenching aspiration, which I can only compare to the sickness of A Serbian Film, will remain in my memory forever as some things cannot be unseen.
Recommended, but be careful what you wish for.
4 out of 5
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