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The first hour is rock solid. Then it becomes too directly a movie
about how men are evil and women are oppressed. Also at about the
one-hour mark, it loses the subtle parody aspects. There's some brutal
horror scenes at the end, but they're exactly what you were expecting
from the beginning, and the effects are kind of comical and sloppy.
Someone gets thrown in the air and it looks like they go into
anti-gravity mode. There's also this sad indie music playing at random
points throughout the film; it makes sense in the early scenes, but it
feels haphazard towards the end.
I kept typing because I needed 10 lines. This is perfectly in parallel with the film; both my review and the film started out with the right idea and then just kept going until they completely ran out of steam.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So far I haven't been that impressed with Lucky McKee's films, but with
The Woman he has become a director who has found his voice. Its a
singular and deeply personal vision and for the first time in a film of
his, it all comes together. I still find it difficult to put my finger
on what makes the film so upsetting and I will need another couple of
viewings to completely get my head around it, but this is part of the
In short, The Woman is about a man who, on a hunting trip, comes across and entraps a feral woman who lives in the woods. He decides to chain her up in his basement to 'civilise' her. He involves his family, as if this were a project like building a garden shed. As the film goes on it becomes clear that the man, a pillar of the community, has been mistreating the female members of his household for a long time and the character of "the women" comes to personify and externalise what has been broken in that family all along.
While the last act erupts in bloody violence, it's the emotional violence and the effect on its characters that we experience along the way, which is really upsetting. There is also some pitch black humour in the film, which only makes the film more disturbing.
There has already been some controversy when there were walk outs at Sundance where the film has been accused of misogyny, but I don't think that's the case. This is a feminist horror film, but one that avoids trite lectures and finger wagging moralising. Just because a film depicts something, doesn't mean it approves of it.
The film sits in the middle the between something like a Todd Solondz film but without the hipster nihilism and the French torture horror films like Martyrs or Inside but without the moral vacuity or leering voyeurism. Those looking for a straightforward shocker may be disappointed, because the film constantly side steps the conventions and clichés of the genre. McKee doesn't give you fake scares to jolt you or conventional suspense sequences and it doesn't "reward" you with violence, when you expect it. If you are open to McKee's approach then the film will crawl under your skin and it will fester there and that's what I call a real horror film.
The films horror lies in its characters and in the unequal power dynamic between men and women. On the surface this may look like a film about a monster woman killing people or it maybe about a family trapping and abusing a feral women, but while those are aspects of the film, they aren't really what the film is about. The emotional pay off to these genre conventions is completely different from other modern horror films and their depiction never resorts to clichés. It's a film that gives an audience what it needs, rather than what it wants.
A note on the acting some comments have been complaining about. The performances by the entire cast are amazing. Those complaining about the actors in the film don't seem to get that the performances are non-naturalistic on purpose. The acting style fits the sense of allegory and heightened reality, yet the actors still get to the truth behind their characters. In a perfect world they should hand Sean Bridgers, who plays the father, the Oscar for best actor now and be done with it. Angela Bettis' fragile frame and sad face have never been put to better use as the mother. The actress who plays 'the woman' is truly ferocious and the kids are great too, especially the teenage daughter whose slow withdrawal from the world is painful to watch.
The use of a rock soundtrack in the film is also fantastic, which gives it a raw punk power and aesthetic. There is a moment where the mother allows herself to connect and identify with the 'woman's' plight, while a guitar chord drones on and it is absolutely exhilarating.
There are things in this film which during my initial viewing I reacted against and now when I think back on it, they were absolutely perfect creative choices. Shot on video and looking it, using slow motion, fish eye lenses and many dissolves at times seemingly at random, the film is often quite ugly looking but this only adds to it's raw, ragged punk quality. The fate of one central character genuinely appalled me and for a moment I hated the film, but then thinking back, it was absolutely the right thing to do.
I'm a jaded viewer of horror movies by now and its not often that a film gets to genuinely mess with my head and leaves me richer for it. The horror genre needs more films like this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went into this film knowing practically nothing. I hadn't seen any trailers, I just saw the poster and decided it would be cool to watch. The film started, and I was willing to overlook bizarre plot holes, such as why the man would want to capture the woman in the first place, and why he slapped his wife for no particular reason. As the film progressed, there were more and more of these moments that took me out of the film. There is a scene where the son is accused of molesting the titular woman. However, this did not actually happen, and while it might have happened off screen, what the child actually did was far more horrific and made more sense than molestation. When the film ended, there was a bizarre feminist message about how women are right, and at that point I realized how much I hated the movie. It all fell into place, the strange scene with a girl challenging a boy to basketball, the husband's bizarre woman-hating rant. This film gets a 4/10 because it kept me entertained while I was watching it, but loses the rest of the points for making me hate it when I was done.
I don't write a lot of reviews but this film gained a lot of publicity
after some guy at Sundance walked out (or got kicked out) for
complaining about the violence and misogyny in it. He was probably
right to walk out, but did so for all the wrong reasons. I didn't find
the movie particularly violent for the horror genre. What it was
lacking was better writing and character development. So adding the
review to give people a better idea of what they were getting, since
it's presently sitting at an 8.5 with no other reviews.
The mother and kids of the family and even "the woman" were fairly well acted and developed, although I find it hard to believe in any teenagers these days that will just do whatever their father says. Unfortunately, the father, teacher, and some other small parts seemed to be more caricature than character. The fact that it was not working was obvious, although how much of it can be blamed on bad writing, bad acting, or bad directing may be debatable. Unfortunately, the father is in almost every scene, so this caricature becomes the centerpiece that the rest of the film revolves around.
There are some other problems with sound choices and some of the worst use of music I've heard in any film. Almost every time one of these alt-pop tunes came on all I could think was "Really? They're using this to set the mood?!" I think only once during the course of the film, did a song come on that I thought "Oh, this almost, sort of works". Most of these songs would probably be fine on their own, but didn't seem to fit the mood of the film at all.
In addition occasional bad directing, lighting, and editing choices left me not being able to see or understand what was happening at certain points in the film or understanding why they edited the same shots cutting back and forth at times. This is most obvious in the opening scenes where they are showing the girl raised by wolves. It's a pretty common theme that's been done dozens of times before. Yet here they spend too much time on it, without actually developing it at all. Just a lot of jumpy cuts going back and forth to state the obvious, to the point that I started fast forwarding to get to the credits and see if the film was actually going anywhere. The credits really shouldn't be more interesting than the opening scenes. I would have much rather seen more development on the father's character and what his motivations were in these opening scenes. We never really get any of that, and as I said earlier, he's pivotal to the way every other character acts and reacts during the course of the film. Other than those complaints, the overall technical aspects of the film were pretty professional for an indie film.
The biggest problem for me though, was lack of any kind of suspense buildup. Something that is ever present in the best of horror films, and usually at least some hint of, even in a mediocre horror film. I was never really left wondering what was going to happen next, things just happened and we watched, but didn't feel much of anything for the characters involved.
I respect the director's decision to do something a bit out there in terms of film norms these days, and the ending might give you a bit of a chuckle, if you hang in there that long, but in the end found it to be a rather low end mediocre movie, so 5 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm undecided on this one. First, let me say that the soundtrack is
completely inappropriate, intrusive and distracting. When Cleek first
encounters The Woman it should have been a silent and nervous scene,
even erotic, but instead we get some whiny and unconnected college rock
crap that adds nothing. All the songs in the film suck.
Let's not forget that the premise of this is absurd to the point of hilarity. Look honey, I found this savage woman wandering the woods. Let's keep her and train her to be a proper girl, just like in Pygmalion. Only much worse. OK, so he gets her home and she bites his finger off. His reaction? 'Ouch!' That's it. He yelps for a second then puts a plaster on it. Now, I assume we are expected to surmise from this that he is a psychopath and impervious to pain, like Raymond Lemorne in The Vanishing, but he carries none of the menace and his sleek professional face is just a little too slick. The look on The Woman's face as she crunches his finger is priceless though.
So on to his family, a bunch of one dimensional caricatures lorded over by this smiling psycho, that makes me think that this is an attempt at a dysfunctional family black comedy like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but there's just too much that's set up and obvious. None of the characters are believable and it's impossible to sympathise with them, especially the mother. Her character has a perfectly good chance to put a stop to the disaster she can see coming, but chickens out and actually perpetuates it.
The gore factor of this is negligible, so forget that too. And why does the daughter lie about her brother masturbating when he was torturing The Woman? It makes little sense, especially as she appears to empathise and identify with The Woman, who can apparently sense that she is pregnant. The ending is baffling too. I can see what the storyteller was trying to say: the modern nuclear family doesn't work, so a return to savagery and primitivism is the way to survive, but again, its too trite and obvious an ending and it just sort of fizzles out. The fathers death, a good opportunity for some real payback, is rendered powerless with the clichéd 'tear your heart out and eat it' scene.
There are few saving graces to this film. The soundtrack is awful, the gore is blah, the characters are flat and unbelievable, the misogyny is delivered like a sledgehammer (yeah, men are bastards. we get it) and the moral, such as it is, is typical 'tack and ending on before we run out of money' fodder. Imagine company of Wolves, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and an elongated episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but without the production values and you're about there. The only thing that made this worth watching was Pollyanna McIntosh. She owns the screen and conveyed more drama with a look or a smile than the rest of the cast put together.
I didn't hate this, but I suffered it until the end for Pollyanna. A begrudged 6/10
The Woman tells the tale of a feral woman who is captured by, at least
on the surface, a traditional family man who is an attorney in a solo
practice. As the movie proceeds, it is clear that the man's patriarchy
goes way beyond, into that of a power-crazed maniac. The tension is
palpable between the man and his captured trophy as her presence in the
lives of the family members affects each differently. Be prepared for
shocking and intense graphic violence and plot twists you would never
expect. Not for the squeamish. The story is compelling and so are the
characters in this study of human nature.
The acting is practiced and believable. The writers have a good handle on the dynamics of domestic violence. I see this film as exemplifying domestic violence taken to its furthest extreme. How domestic violence perpetuates itself through the generations can be seen in the distance.
I like the way The Woman is the central character of the film while at the same time being incidental to the drama unfolding within the family unit.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It defies belief that this "film" has so many positive reviews on here
and also such a high score on Rotten Tomatoes (currently 75%). I'm a
little bit sceptical that perhaps most of these glowing "best film I
have ever seen 10/10" reviews might have been written by people that
worked on the film or friends and family of the production team. A
lesson learnt to be cautious of films with very few written reviews
that are all glowingly positive. As a result I feel compelled to write
a review to give my honest opinion of this "film".
From the very opening scene this film stinks of a badly directed 'indy' production. Lots of dissolves of a feral woman (albeit with shaved armpits, legs and a neatly cut fringe) running through woods. Shortly she is kidnapped by a family man and chained up in the family garage -his kids and wife don't think to question this by the way. This film has such poor attention to detail that if becomes intriguingly bizarre (not in a good way) as the story limps forward.
There is another really bizarre aspect to this film which is the awful and totally inappropriate music that is poured over the ENTIRE FILM. It does nothing to enhance the mood and it never intelligently juxtaposes with the imagery of any sequence. It feels like we are being subjected to the director's personal taste in music rather than music that is fitting to the story. I found it really bothered me.
The one positive I took from this film was the performance of the wife. I think she did an excellent job with a very poor script. I wouldn't recommend this film.
The Woman- The movie opens with a seemingly happy family enjoying a
backyard BBQ with some friends. But it is apparent very soon that this
family has a lot of terrible secrets they are hiding. The wife seems to
be walking on eggshells around her husband, the teenage daughter is
having trouble at school, and the teenage son is showing signs of being
a psychopath like his father. The father may seem like the picture of
an upstanding citizen but is actually a wolf in sheep's clothing.
During a hunting trip, the father finds a feral woman. But instead of calling the authorities, he brings her home to live with his family? He decides to make it a family project to clean her up and domesticate her. It is no surprise that things do not go as smoothly as he hoped. What follows is a disturbing gory end to the story.
From a woman's point of view, I saw this film as more of a piece about what is actually civilized and what is feral. The Woman could instinctively tell who was there to harm her or help her. She could easily read other people's emotions and reactions to what was happening to her. During the duration of the film, the father seems to act just as uncivilized as his captive, but displays it in a very different way than The Woman.
The movie was shocking, disgusting, thought provoking, and perverse. Horror fans will be be satisfied and cringing with the splatterfest ending.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must agree with other reviewers who state this film is pretty bad,
actually terrible. It was just such a downer, all of the family, except
for the father, walked around "in a daze", like they were zombies.
Besides the father, who seemed uncharacteristically cheerful (like one
of those creepy teachers or neighbors), the only other character that
showed any signs of life was the youngest daughter, who also seemed a
bit "touched" :-)
It was just bad. The acting was poor, and there were too many un-answered questions. Also too much illogical behavior - e.g., "Oh, Dad brought home a wild girl, oh well, back to my homework", or, during the finale, why didn't someone pick-up the phone and dial 911? Three different people walked past the phone, without bothering to use it...
I went into this movie expecting the worst but came out pleasantly
surprised. With all of the controversy regarding this film when that
guy walked out almost made me wonder if he was planted. I mean it
really wasn't all that gory and certaining not the most disturbing
movie out there.
Another reason why I thought this movie was going to be worse was Jack Ketchum's "The Girl Next Door" one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen that still makes me feel uncomfortable thinking about it even though I viewed it almost a year ago. That would be a movie I would totally understand why someone would freak out, in some ways I wish I had never seen that movie. Since "The Woman" was co-written by Jack Ketchum, I expected it to be along the same lines.
To get on with the review, I truly enjoyed this film. I have watch many (too many lol) horror films and to find one that is unique as well as well filmed is a rarity. This movie, contrary to popular belief is not all that violent or gory. Yes, there are scenes with abuse of a poor woman but it's really nothing you haven't seen before.
This was such a strange story as well. A seemingly perfect family, with its homemaker wife, successful lawyer husband, son and daughter living out what seems to be the "Leave it to Beaver" lifestyle. As the story goes on you learn that the father is seriously dysfunctional and drags his family down with him by capturing a wild woman and forcing the family to participate in her torture.
Strange, yet wonderfully filmed. I enjoyed this movie. It was also nice to be able to watch something so original and unique.
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