THE WOMAN (BLU-RAY)
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
A feral woman stalking the woods, and a suburban Massachusetts family: which houses the greater evil? This is the question posed expertly in The Woman.
Is it good movie?
When out hunting on his sprawling backwoods property, lawyer Chris Cleek spies a feral woman stalking in the woods. He decides to capture her, imprison her in his fruit cellar, and ďcivilizeĒ her. Such is the nature of Chrisís arrogance and fractured psyche that he finds it perfectly normal to involve the whole family in the deal, so they can see how he can shape and control any situation. Mom Belle and daughter Peg are clearly horrified, though they seem to live their lives in a perpetually fragile and terrorized state. Son Brian, a little Chris in the making, thinks its fine as paint, and tiny Darliní is too small and sweet to have any idea what is happening.
So, they chain up a feral woman in the cellar, and feed her, attempt to bathe her, and attempt to do other things to her. What could go wrong? Meanwhile, we get disturbing glimpses into the rest of the Cleek family life. Dadís casual abuse of mom, Pegís mysterious pregnancy, and Chrisís cavalier attitude towards the growing misogyny of his son. The woman in the cellar, though chained up and out of sight most of the time, proves to be the catalyst that unhinges the family, as each memberís trauma and volatility reach their individual breaking points.
This film makes me happy on many different levels. Right off the bat, it is based on a book written by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee, an author and filmmaker, respectively, whose works I greatly admire. Ketchum is brutal, but always with an honest heart and soul attached, and while McKee canít seem to catch a break (re: the mishandling of The Woods and his firing from another Ketchum film, Red) when he is allowed to work he produces a damned fine film. In this case, he actually co-wrote the novel The Woman is based on, which is itself the third in a trilogy, which includes Off Season and Offspring.
Speaking of Offspring: the woman character, played by the mesmerizing Pollyanna McIntosh, first appeared in that novelís film version, in 2009. Fans of that film may be disappointed in The Womanís lack of ostentatious violence. But screw them. The Woman is less visceral in the blood and guts sense, though it does have some intense moments towards the end. No, the brutality in The Woman comes from the characters, and their relationships with each other. You keep waiting for the woman to get loose and start snacking on people, but itís the ďnormalĒ people who commit the actual evil.
Video / Audio
Video: This High Def presentation is excellent, and McKee absolutely knows how to shoot a film. He worked closely with DP Alex Vendler, and it shows. Every frame of the film is constructed to convey an emotion. And succeeds.
Audio: There are two audio tracks: 5.1 DTS Surround, and a 2.0 stereo track. Once again, McKee worked closely with both sound designer Andrew Smetek, who took a quiet glee in creating a soundscapes aimed to discomit the audience, and composer Sean Spillane, who put together some impressive songs for the film. This is a soundtrack well worth owning.
The Making of The Woman: This is a pretty standard making of doc, which does not mean it is not entertaining or informative. It is both. I always like it when a doc shows that all the participants were having fun, and genuinely trying to make the best film possible. I also like this doc because it shows you Pollyanna McIntosh outside of her role. Sheís awesome.
Deleted Scenes: There are only about five minutes here, two or three scenes, which goes to show that most of what was shot ended up in the film. The only scene here that had any pertinent info cut along with it was some backstory for Pegís teacher, Mrs. Raton, and why she was so bent on revealing Pegís pregnancy to her parents. Frankly, that character was the only thing about the film that bothered me, and I think more of her role should have hit the cutting room floor.
Meet the Makers: This is 10 minutes culled from the 25-minute making of doc, as was shown on Chiller TV.
Mi Burro: This is a short film, but Iím not entirely sure whose. It is an animatic style animation, and it concerns a poor Mexican boy and the talking burro whom he partners with to cadge spare change off tourists. Weird, but compelling.
ĒDistractedĒ by Sean Spillane: This is listed as being a music video, though itís really not. Itís more like a still gallery with Distracted playing over it. Still, a great song, like all the other Spillane songs in the film.
Blu-Ray Exclusive: The FILM4 Frightfest Total Film Panel: Pretty much exactly what is says: a panel discussion on the state of American horror, from 2011ís frightfest, featuring Larry Fessenden, Ti West, Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Lucky McKee, and Andrew van den Houten. It runs about 43-minutes, and it is pretty interesting having such a discussion with a bunch of relatively young horror filmmakers.
Alas, no commentary.
The Woman is a wonderful film, created by a collective of artists who take genuine delight in making films. Ketchumís brand of brutality is nicely understated here, with McKee and his crew crafting an intelligent and emotional, yet highly disturbing film around it. McIntosh and Angela Bettis are standouts, and even though Sean Bridgers (Chris) looks like Will Ferrell, he still did an excellent job and was just as much a lynchpin for the film as McIntosh. Highly recommended.