Genre: Horror, Thriller
Director: Lucky McKee
Starring: Carlee Baker, Pollyanna McIntosh, Angela Bettis, Sean Bridgers
Duration: 101 min.
Family man and lawyer Christoper Cleek must do what he can to protect his family when he comes into contact with a feral woman living in the woods near his isolated country home. Through a series of harrowing encounters Cleek and his family quickly discover there is more to this woman than anyone would suspect and that sometimes the devil wears a handsome face.
The Woman is a film directed by Lucky McKee. It's a loose sequel to the 2009 film Offspring, and based on a story co-written by acclaimed horror novelist Jack Ketchum. It premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Set in a small town in the Northeastern United States, McKee's latest effort begins with a stylized sequence featuring the title character (Pollyanna McIntosh), sporting a recent wound and roaming the woods like a wild beast in heroic slow motion. It then introduces us to at first glance a seemingly normal nuclear family, the Cleeks, enjoying a weekend barbecue. Chris (Sean Bridgers), a successful estate lawyer, his docile wife Belle (frequent McKee star Angela Bettis), and their three children Peggy, Brian, and Darlin. Almost immediately it is evident that there is something amiss with this family, their smiles and interactions are just too forced and artificial to be right. No big surprise since this is a horror film after all, but with some fine acting and a clever aware screenplay that ever so playfully dances around the audience expectations, makes The Woman a welcome entry into the genre.
Pollyanna McIntosh delivers an outstanding performance as the feral woman with cannibalistic tendencies. Kept helplessly restrained in the Cleek's cellar after she gets captured by Chris while out hunting in the woods, she emanates a constant feeling of unpredictable menace and terror with every glare and growl, but at the same time she still manages to elicit our sympathy for her predicament. Bridgers is also impressive in a vastly different way, a cold and calculated, quietly abusive sociopathic individual so despicable we hope and wait for him to trip up and make a fatal mistake. While the always intriguing Bettis threatens to boil over and explode in a sudden ball of fury at any given moment.
The effects and makeup work are also very well done, nothing groundbreaking or extreme but they do their job to enhance the eerily unsettling and gory surprises that McKee and Ketchum's script have in store. The overall visual style though is fairly underwhelming. Scenes are often poorly lit, and except for a couple interesting sequences towards the end, the cinematography largely consists of pedestrian shots. However, the excellent lo-fi, 90's inspired soundtrack composed by Sean Spillane, breathes some life into the otherwise banal pictures, and is at times used to produce some hilariously dark irony.
In the end, it could be seen as an informed commentary on the vicious cruelty of men, or the fine line that exists between civilization and savagery, or maybe just the product of two disturbing and demented minds. Either way, I am impressed by this unique and uncommon take on what is often a tired and repetitive genre. But be warned, this isn't one for those who easily get queasy.
— Bonjour Tristesse