Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Woman (2011)

Fear 3/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 3/5

The Woman is a film that had already gained notoriety long before it became available recently via VOD services. Sundance premiere freak out notwithstanding (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, click here), it has played to many a film festival and has elicited strong reactions from both hardcore horror fans and Joe Friday movie goers alike. It's on my short list of films I didn't get to see last year and I'm glad I finally got to just a few days ago. But I'm not sure where I sit with this film as its swirled around inside my noggin' these past few days. Visceral, brutal and ultimately strange, The Woman is without a doubt a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

The beginning of our film sees us introduced to two people with completely disparate lives. We watch as a woman, muddied and loin cloth clad, running through a wooded area, through a brook and catching that day's meal with a knife. We see her later on as she retires, curled up and taking shelter in a cave. We are then greeted by the presence of a family man, a man who promises to give a friend a good price on her home with a wink and a nod. He has three children: a young daughter and two teens, both son and daughter. Following him in subservient fashion on his life's journey, is his meek and spineless wife (played by the always fantastic Angela Bettis).

As you can probably infer from my previous sentence, it's not long before we begin to see the cracks in this family. Teenage daughter is quiet, reserved and stays out of the way. But it becomes obvious she's hiding a secret. Teenage son is vengeful, envious and destructive, and almost psychopathic. Young daughter almost seems oblivious to it all, and like most young kids who know they have a rotten home life, makes up a life for herself. And mom, well, she just takes the orders that are barked at her. In the center of all of this is one son of a bitch father. Completely controlling and utterly contemptible.

One day while out hunting around the same wooded area where our feral woman was spotted, he comes across her. He follows her and eventually strikes her down, capturing and dragging her back to his home. Under the guise of rehabillitation and acclimation, he forces it upon his family to accept her and care for her. At first, of course, they are fearful. Each one interacts with her in different ways and eventually, they get used to her presence. With dad being as narcissistic as he is, you know that it's only a matter of time before he takes advantage of her as she's strung up by some pretty strong cable wires.

Things come to a head in our story when the teenage daughter doesn't show for school and we learn that she is pregnant. Her teacher comes knocking to see how she is but at the most inopportune time. You see mom, after scolding the son for spending some time with our locked up Shenan The Barbarian, takes a full on beat down at the hands of the father after she comes down on the son hard. At the risk of exposing them, the father and son take 'care' of the teacher and we are shown a deep, dark secret the family has long kept hidden. A vicious bloodbath ensues with the captive woman being released and all hell breaking loose.

The problem I have with the film is two-fold. 1. The real impetus behind the father capturing the feral woman and bringing her home to assimilate her is never fully known nor does it feel completely natural. 2. The ending leaves things open to interpretation but my tiny pea brain has now come up with it's own. I don't want to share my thoughts because I don't want to spoil your film watching experience.

I will definitively say that it is worthy of your time and attention. For those of you that have seen it, what say yous?

Cortez the Killer


Emily said...

I liked this film well enough the first go around--big McKee fan and HUGE KEtchum fan--but the more I thought about it and when we talked it out on a special Girls On Film episode, I found A LOT of problems. Love the performances of all the female characters, but the men are so one-note. I think it would've been a thousand times more interesting if, at least with the dad, there was a little more layers. Especially when--


The dad just runs away as the kid's being attacked. Just SUCH an easy villainous action, and it made the film far too black and white. Men are BAD! Woman are VICTIMIZED! I expect more from both McKee and Ketchum.

StraightToVideo said...

In the given situation, men were bad and the women were victimized. I see what you are saying, but I think it works with the story.

Enjoyed the woman btw, but liked Lucky's other films better.

Great site btw.

Emily said...

I'm not saying it doesn't pay to make a movie about men abusing women; I just think the film would have been so much more interesting and complex if the men weren't such evil caricatures.

Planet of Terror said...


Emily, I didn't feel the film was as black and white as you say. Yes, the men are bad, women are victimized angle was there but I thought it did a great job slowly revealing and peeling back the layers to show that yes, this father was one despicable piece of shit. I respectfully disagree, I don't think he was a caricature at all. And the way the son evolved from being mischievous to an all out psychopath, holy crap!

Straight to Video, I agree. All in all ***Spoiler Alert*** I think the film did a good job of painting the remaining children as being much better off with this wild and feral woman.

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Thanks for the kind words. And thanks for the comment.

Emily said...

Man, I WISH I agreed! But the very first thing we see the dad do is speak to his wife like a slave at the barbeque. I do think they attempted to show the other side of him by making him so liked in his profession, but he always came off as so smarmy that I always suspected he had ulterior motives in his job as well as at home. I don't know how much was deliberate and/or how much was just my reading, but I just didn't see a single moment in his actions that made me see him as anything but evil.

Mike Snoonian said...

Emily-The way he spoke to his wife during the opening BBQ was a quick way to show him asserting his dominance-just the way he'd bark out her name when addressing her without even bothering to turn around and face her put her in her place. I understand what you're saying about how he was professionally respected. I actually found that a realistic aspect of his character. He was able to easily compartmentalize his home life from his work life and "social activities" in the basement because he was so self assured in his actions.