Receiving it’s UK premier as part of Film Four’s Frightfest, The Woman is a tour de force of that makes the festival so great. Across the world the movie has divided opinion, with lovers and haters, this is a film that is looked upon in some disgust.
While out hunting a man discovers a woman in the wild, a woman clearly without any basic levels of civilized behavior like a normal human being. She has never had any real conversation with anyone, never lived the way we do. And for the hunter, Chris this is something that he simply must have. Taking the woman to his already disturbing household, he vows to civilize her, and teach her how to behave. The problem being that his household is far from civilized, and the arrival of the woman, may just be the turning point for the family.
The Woman is a film of sustained menace, even when things are going relatively smoothly, you are very much aware of some sinister and twisted underbelly that underpins everything that happens on the screen. From one of the opening scenes set at a barbecue you realize that everything is not OK in the Cleek household. And it just keeps building from there, and while the unraveling is subtle, you can feel the tension building, and it’s a feeling that makes the movie more and more unpleasant as the film progresses.
Chris the father is every-ones friend, but when doors are closed and nobody other than family is around, its very clear that they are there simply to do his bidding. Mum is a traditional mother, a woman who rules the house but dare not question her husbands word. Peggy the daughter, someone that is removed from the normal way of teenage life, someone who is a victim of recent events that occur just prior to where the movies story begins. Son Brian, a boy who sees his father behavior, and sees nothing wrong in it, replicating that behavior but with slightly different results. While youngest daughter Darlin, is still too young to see what is wrong and right, and seems in some ways completely blind to events in the house.
The movie is made by the actress Polyanna McIntosh who plays the woman of the movies title. If this movie was carried by a major distributor, with serious money to spend this would be without a doubt an Oscar nominated role. This actress is phenomenal, the sounds that come from her mouth (to replace usual vocals) are incredibly disturbing, her movements every bit those of a wild animal, a wild, caged animal. Her character is a strange addition for the movie, because while she is in many ways the films star, she actually appears in the movie for quite a short period of time. She is very much the elephant in the corner of the room that nobody really talks about, she is there, she is of course interesting to the household, but there is so much other stuff going on, to the house she is nothing more than a human guard dog, that has not yet been trained to guard.
The films script is written by Jack Ketchum, and Lucky McKee two names that should be only too familiar to genre fans, and if you are, you’ll also have a very clear image of how things in the movie will unravel. For McKee who also directs the film, this is by far his darkest voyage.
As the movie draws to a close, all the screwed up things that are hinted at all come bubbling to the surface, and I listened intensely as I hear lots of sighs and “oh my god” expressions from people sat in the circle that surrounded me. To get that response from a hardcore horror-loving crowd, is a real compliment to the makers of the film.
The Woman is not an easy going movie, and its end incredibly brutal. Take this as a warning, many people have ignored the warning signs and gone on ridiculous rants about the feature. This is very much an important movie, it’s a movie about how people are treated, and how people expect to be treated, and a cautionary message that if you keep fucking with something long and hard enough it will be your undoing.