Our review for The Woman was a long time coming. After covering it at Frightfest 2011 and having it as part of our Horror Movie Marathon last Halloween, writing something up seemed natural.
The Woman tells the tale of a feral woman who is happily living in the American wilderness, living off the land and enjoying a primitive existence.
How she got there, nobody knows, but when a lawyer-husband-father-of-three catches sight of her during a hunting trip, he’s enchanted. And with little thought for his family, he captures her and takes her back home to re-educate her. His plan (or so he tells his family) is to erase her animalistic ways and make her a normal member of society – the way it should be.
The woman isn’t overly happy about this, and neither are the other family members who think it’s a bit weird that Dad has locked a woman in the cellar. But with Dad being a violent and pretty deranged, they follow his instructions regardless.
Soon Dad and son are showing a more unhealthy, sexual interest in their captive and before long the relationships between all parties take a turn for the worse, building to a crescendo of wrongness.
The Woman got lots of media attention upon its release. This is probably due to the fact that it is indeed horrible, and that’s what most people are looking for in a horror film.
The performances can’t be faulted, from the split personality of Dad (Sean Bridgers) and downtrodden, nervous Mum (Angela Bettis) to the grunting, snarling, savage woman (Pollyanna McIntosh).
There’s also no questioning the quality of delivery, with the cinematography adding to the long and arduous sequences. The score, though a little haphazard adds to the atmosphere with jarring sounds and sporadic blasts of bleak music.
But although The Woman is horrible and hard to watch, it’s not to everyone’s tastes. The torture and dispair are a different level even to that of the Saw films. Everything is real, plain and harsh, with little drama or entertainment to be had.
Films of this nature aren’t so much like watching fiction. They are more akin to watching a documentary, or clips of real executions online. They seems to appeal to our basic morbid fascination in mindless acts of violence and murder. We don’t want to watch, but we can’t help but look.
There isn’t much of a story to The Woman at all. Man finds feral woman; man takes said woman home; man does nasty things to woman and family; vengeance is sought. That’s about it.
There is little back story or explanation of who the characters are or how they ended up in this situation.
Outside of this simple plot it seems that writers Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum decided to have a competition to see who could write the sickest ideas to insert. The end result is an largely uneventful experience with short periods of extreme violence and motiveless abuse.
Yes, there is a market for this kind of film. Fans of The Devils’s Rejects or The Human Centipede will no doubt enjoy the experience, as might film students who could draw all kinds of interesting observations from the battle between matriarch and patriarch throughout the film.
But it’s not a film that you’re likely to come back to, and watching it doesn’t
leave you with any sense of achievement – just a kind of sick feeling in your stomach similar to that which you might get after hearing about a horrible global disaster on the news.
The Woman will remain in my memory, but probably not for the reasons that the producers intended.