The Woman DVD Review
Written by Charlotte Stear
DVD released by Revolver Entertainment
Directed by Lucky McKee
Written by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee
2011, Region 2 (PAL), 102 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 17th October 2011
Pollyanna McIntosh as The Woman
Sean Bridgers as Chris Cleek
Angela Bettis as Belle Cleek
Lauren Ashley Carter as Peggy Cleek
Zach Rand as Brian Cleek
Shyla Molhusen as Darlin' Cleek
Hype and controversy are two things that can instantly turn off my attention in a film. I’m really not a film snob I promise, but when something becomes so hyped I tend to go in with a bit of a defensive attitude. Just because they all loved it, doesn’t mean I am going to. The Woman was apparently the film to see at this year’s FrightFest after its profile was raised during the Sundance film festival by several walk-outs and THAT video of a very disgruntled viewer. On one hand, this is great promotion, what kind of horror fan wouldn’t want to see a film with that kind of reputation? On the other, hardened horror fans could be disappointed in what they see. What film can live up to that kind of publicity?
The film follows a successful family man, Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) who, while hunting in some neighbouring woods, finds a woman who lives in the wild. He decides to capture her and take her to his home. He recruits his family to help him with his project; she can’t speak and has no understanding of civilisation so his plan is to fix her by taming her.
This is a film you could talk about for hours after watching, whether you loved it or hated it, you will want to discuss it. This was my second viewing of the film and each time a 30 minute analysis of it happened instantly after, not many films stick around with you like this one does. Lucky McKee has worked hard to craft a film with such an impact and that is what makes it quite outstanding.
Some of the greatest casting I have seen in a long time is here. Both mother, daughter and son look like they are related in real life and it’s all in the eyes. This is an essential quality because it is not what is said between them, it is the look of tortured eyes that says so many things. This is like a lot of the scares in the film. The Woman does not rely on all out gore to get to its audience, it is very subtle and the terror comes in everything that is implied, but never really shown. As the film climaxes it gets gorier, but up until then it is very lacking in that department which is no bad thing. It is a movie that deals with some very dark issues but is undoubtedly very elegantly made; at no point does it use violence for the sake of it. As a female viewer (and I swear I’m not going to go all feminist on you) it can be hard to watch exploitation films where you know a filmmaker has put in sexual violence just to shock and for no other reason, I think McKee has tackled an incredibly sensitive and disturbing subject with complete respect for women and doesn’t do anything excessively. Hearing people comment that this film degrades women does baffle me as I can’t see it any other way than in a pro-feminist light, the story is about the capture of a woman which ultimately turns into an empowering revenge flick.
It’s good to see an intelligent film shocking for the right reasons. Other films that cause controversy, like The Human Centipede, are ultimately just gross and nothing more. The Woman is very rarely disgusting, and consistently harrowing. In the extra features of this disc McKee states he wants people “to be looking into the picture, not at it” which is exactly what he has achieved. It becomes so involving to an audience that it feels like you’re a character on screen and becomes a very intense movie-going experience.
Needless to say the casting is one of the key factors to the success of this film. Head of the family Chris Cleek is a self-righteous man who easily makes your skin crawl, while Pollyanna McIntosh as the Woman has no lines yet speaks 1,000 words with her eyes. She is really terrifying at times. I also thought the daughter Peggy, played by Lauren Ashley, was particularly outstanding.
The pace of the film is perfect; it is very slow and gradual and climaxes to a brutal end. It is captivating to watch as things start to piece together in the story, and cracks in characters begin to show. But for a while it is very puzzling to pin down, it seems quite perky and upbeat, even funny in some instances (maybe on first viewing anyway), even the way it is shot is bright and you get a sense of a typical suburban American family life. But there is always a sense that there is something darker lurking underneath. The way each portion of the film fades to black is like McKee saying, “ponder on that for a while”, then it moves on and you’re left with a lingering unsure feeling as to what’s going to happen next. Added to all this is a soundtrack that really feels out of place, it jolts you out of the situation you feel you are a part of, and you are back in the audience seeing the effects on screen.
This isn’t a film to be viewed purely for its hype, which I feel is definitely misplaced in a lot of ways. It is a film to watch because it is a fantastic modern horror film and it will definitely be one you will want to talk about for a while to come. McKee has really pushed himself forward as a leading horror maker and it is an exciting accomplishment.
Video and Audio:
I had no problems with either, there is a set up option for 5.1 Surround Sound or 2.0 Stereo, the film is shown in 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
There is a nice little collection of special features on the disc which include a very interesting 20-minute “Making Of” which shows how the film’s production started. There is also a selection of deleted scenes, a short film called Mi Burro and a little documentary called “Meet the Makers”. All of which are a great addition to the main feature.