Title: The Woman
Director: Lucky McKee (‘The Woods’)
Starring: Sean Bridgers (TV’s ‘Deadwood’), Pollyanna McIntosh (‘Offspring’), Angela Bettis (‘Girl, Interrupted,’ TV’s ‘Carrie’) and Lauren Ashley Carter (‘The Prodigies’)
People often think their actions benefit everyone, and don’t always think about the consequences will negatively affect those around them. This is one of the main themes in the new horror film ‘The Woman,’ which is now available on DVD. The movie’s director and co-writer, Lucky McKee, bravely showcased the evil and conniving acts of violence seemingly upstanding people take in the privacy of their own home. They enjoy unleashing terror on their innocent neighbors, claiming the torture will benefit them and help them mature.
‘The Woman’ follows family man and lawyer Chris Cleek (played by Sean Bridgers), who comes into contact with a feral woman (portrayed by Pollyanna McIntosh), who is living in the woods near his isolated country home. Chris takes it upon himself to lock the woman in his cellar in an effort to civilize her, much to the protests of his wife, Belle (played by Angela Bettis), and his older daughter, Peggy (portrayed by Lauren Ashley Carter). Chris and Belle’s son, Brian (played by Zach Rand), is all too happy to help his father tie the woman up, however, and as a result, the Cleeks discover there’s more to this woman than they ever suspected.
McKee received backlash when ‘The Woman’ first premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival for degrading women. However, the main actors were perfectly cast in their respect roles in the film and they effortlessly showcased how a seemingly perfect family can be facing such turmoil behind closed doors. Bridgers convincingly portrayed Chris as actually believing he’s doing right by the woman in trying to domesticate her. He doesn’t find anything wrong with tying her up and physically abusing her, instead of turning her into the authorities, as he revels in the challenge of what he believes is helping her.
McIntosh, who reprised her role of the title character from the 2009 horror film ‘Offspring,’ has very few lines in ‘The Woman,’ and spends most of her scenes locked in the cellar. However, she still effortlessly showcases the woman’s determination to break free from her captors through her dramatic facial expressions. The emptiness and disconnect from other humans McIntosh reflects in the woman’s eyes offer the most terrifying shots included in the film. The woman also shows no fear in rebelling against Chris and his family, taking such drastic and disturbing actions as biting one of his fingers off when he first captures and ties her up.
The somewhat nurturing relationship between Peggy and the woman is one of the most surprising in ‘The Woman.’ Peggy refuses to go along with her father’s plan to civilize the woman, taking pity on her, despite her unnatural lifestyle in the woods. Carter portrays Peggy as understanding the woman’s feelings of disconnect from everyone around her, despite outside pressures to fit into society. Even though Peggy wants to help and protect the woman from her father, she’s afraid to go against him, for fear of the consequences. But instead of the woman wanting to carry out revenge on Peggy as well as the rest of the family, she unexpectedly forms an emotional bond with the girl, and the two form an understanding of each other.
The extras included on the DVD offer more interesting insight into the dysfunctional dynamics of the Cleek family, including deleted scenes. There is also a short film, ‘Mi Burro,’ as well as the music track ‘Distracted,’ by composer Sean Spillane. However, the most intriguing bonus feature is the ‘Making of ‘The Woman” behind-the-scenes documentary. McKee showcases the extensive technical aspects of creating the sets for ‘The Woman,’ including building the Cleek cellar in a high school gym, in order to get the best possible light. The documentary also showcases McIntosh’s true acting ability and commitment to the role of the woman. It highlighted her interacting with her co-stars, including Rand, and the lengthy process it took to transform into the woman’s physical state, including adding make-up.
In order to help promote ‘The Woman’ DVD, the film’s distributor, Bloody Disgusting Selects, has released five new photos from the film on different websites. Once participants have found all five photos and their direct links, they can send them in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “The Woman Viral Scavenger Hunt.” The first person to email the correct locations for all five photos will receive a $50 iTunes Gift Card, a Blu-Ray copy of ‘The Woman’ and a signed 27 x 41 poster from McKee. The following three people to email the correct locations for all five photos will receive a DVD copy of ‘The Woman.’
While ‘The Woman’ received controversy for it’s strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, graphic nudity and scenes of rape and torture, McKee skillfully created a memorable, intriguing character-driven horror film. The film didn’t just include violence for its shock value; while torture shouldn’t be condemned, it skillfully provided a backdrop for what really goes on behind closed doors of seemingly perfect families. The actors weren’t afraid to delve into their characters’ distinct personalities, and show what happens when clashing views collide.
Written by: Karen Benardello