Monday, September 12, 2011

The Woman and Motives for Misogyny: A Movie Review

*here be some spoilers.

**a screener of this film was provided by Platform Group.

Director. Lucky McKee.

Writers: Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum.

The Woman is film from director Lucky McKee and horror writer Jack Ketchum. These two have also teamed together on 2008's Red. Here, they bring at least one feral person out of the wilderness and into civilization. The result is a little chaotic, with a misogynistic theme bringing the film to a bloody conclusion. Not terribly exciting and not terribly ground-breaking, The Woman pokes fun at the nuclear family while these two writers also look at power roles. The Woman is more psychological thriller than horror film, which might disappoint some viewers.

Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) is the head of the household and the domineering figure of the film and of his family. He spends his days slapping his wife around and flirting with his secretary. But, a real challenge comes on a hunting trip one day. Here he finds a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) through his sights, who he ties up and places in his cellar for his own selfish needs. All the woman in the family fear his presence, especially the emotionally and physically abused wife, Belle (Angela Bettis). However, his son takes after him by harassing and raping the now tied up feral women. You can see the power shift coming at about the mid-point, which leaves viewers with another fifty minutes of inappropriate behaviour and allusions to incest to fill the time.

In case the elements of misogyny are not coming through quite clear enough, here are a few more examples of this behaviour. Chris, a lawyer, uses his secretary centrally to bring him coffee and secondarily to bring him files. This is not a progressive role for women, but one a few decades older. As well, this father uses the threat of violence to keep his daughter Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter) in silence. She is carrying Chris, her father's baby. As well, when a teacher comes to his house to complain she is beaten, tied up and left to die in a dog pen, while Chris prattles on about the purpose of women: "you know what women are good for, don't you?" These examples put the power on the side of masculinity, until the final minutes of the film when the feral women breaks loose.

And, of course, every villain must have his comeuppance, right? McKee and Ketchum do not seem to be promoting misogyny on any level. They are using these behaviours in order to elicit a specific response in the audience e.g. upset. These writers are hoping that viewers will condemn the man, so that the desire for revenge can bring some sort of catharsis in the final few minutes. That catharsis will come about will all types of violence which often involves acts of cannibalism. It seems the uncivilized are not taking to modern living so well.

An overview of film elements shows that Sean Spillane's musical selections are picked to break up the film on some level. The music is often forefront and the compositions do not compliment the action onscreen. There are some minor pacing issues in the middle portion of the film. The plot could have been pushed ahead a little faster. As well, the conclusion is too predictable. Most viewers will know how The Woman will end pretty quickly. As well, the purpose of the script is written in such a way as to be controversial. So, there really is no message in the film, outside of: capturing feral people can be hazardous to your health (duh!). These film elements took some of the enjoyment out of this film for this reviewer.

The Woman has been shown at film festivals recently and this movie is set to be released in theatres later this year (October 14th). This reviewer would try to sway most horror fans away from the film, but fans of psychological thrillers might find something of interest here. Kudos go out to McKee and Ketchum for using a strategy to polarize viewers. However, a little more attention could have been applied to the film's message. Yet, this is a sequel to Ketchum's Offspring; so, maybe, the message is still to come in future, intentionally disturbing material.

Overall: 6.5 (predictable, gory bits, strange messages, good acting, believable?).

More on the film can be found at the film's fan page:

The Woman on Facebook

An accurate review of this title at Variety (Rob Nelson):

The Woman Reviewed at Variety

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