“Can't have people running around the woods thinkin' they-re an animal... its not safe.”
Ever since his 2002 film, May, American director Lucky McKee has had a cult following. He recently directed another horror film, All Cheerleaders Die (it was actually a remake of his own film which he had directed with a very low budget). Prior to that remake he directed, The Woman, a film centering around a violent husband who finds a wild woman living in the woods, and decides to bring her home in the attempt to civilize her. But we soon discover that there is nothing civilized about this man who treats the women in his family with no respect at all. The Woman isn’t an easy watch and it has its share of gory scenes, but most of all it tries to be an exaggerated metaphor centering on the violence (both physical and psychological) towards women. The film is clearly representing domestic violence through the use of irony. The story takes its time to pick up, but it does end on a strong note. However in my opinion the soundtrack hurt the film and didn’t really add anything to what McKee was trying to say. Despite understanding what McKee was trying to do and say, I found the film a bit tedious and overly exaggerated at times. As a horror film it will probably have its cult following, but it definitely isn’t a film for everyone. At least I’ll give credit to McKee for having a voice of his own and doesn’t simply make horror films to shock his audience, but rather uses some of these familiar elements to comment on society. I just wish I had enjoyed this more.
In the first scene we are introduced to the Cleek’s who are enjoying a BBQ with some neighbors and friends. Chris (Sean Bridges) and Belle Cleek (Angela Bettis) have three children: Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter) who is in her teens is the oldest, while Brian (Zach Rand) who has probably just hit puberty is the middle child, and Darlin (Shyla Molhusen) is the youngest. Right from the opening scene you can tell that the Cleek’s aren’t your average family. There is a scene where some kids are bullying a little girl and Brian is distracted for a moment as he watches them bully her but ignores them and continues to shoot his basketball. Peggy also seems detached to everyone around her and keeps to herself. The authoritative figure is Chris and everyone in the family seems to be very shy and quiet around him following his orders without questioning him. The atmosphere is set from that very opening scene and things begin to escalate from that moment on. After the BBQ, Chris decides to go hunting in the woods where he discovers a savage woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) living in the woods and decides to take her hostage. He ties her up in the cellar and introduces her to the family and tells them they must civilize her. Pretty soon things begin to get out of control for the Cleek’s family.
McIntosh gives the best performance of the movie as this intimidating savage woman who is clearly a dangerous threat for everyone around her. The irony is that as threatening as she may seem, the true uncivilized person in the film is Chris. Sean Bridges delivers another solid performance as this authoritative and abusive father who tries to appear normal around everyone outside of his family. Angela Bettis who was the star of May, gets a supporting turn here and she doesn’t really have much to do other than be submissive to her husband. The kids in the film were OK, but no one really stood out, although Zach Rand’s character was very easy to dislike. He was clearly being groomed to become his father. If you can stick with the film during its long setup you may be rewarded towards the end, but I just found it too repetitive and excessive at times.