MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
More than a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011, Lucky McKee premiered his new grisly thriller “The Woman” to a huge audience… and some people walked out. One guy, now famous for his rant to festival employees that was captured on video and posted on YouTube, said that the film had no business being made and should be banned.
And this is exactly the reason you should see “The Woman.” Not because you need to seek out disturbing films, which comes from that increasing trend of new filmmakers trying to out-outrage everybody else. Personally, I don’t make it a point to find the most offensive movie out there. To this point, “The Woman” is hardly the most offensive movie I’ve seen. Sure, it’s disturbing, but it’s not really that off-setting.
But it is a good movie. It breaks some new ground for horror, the most important, I think, is to frame the horror to take place in the day. When you sit back and look at “The Woman,” it’s a beautifully-shot film. It’s gorgeous, actually. Most of the film takes place in broad daylight, particularly the most grisly aspects of it. McKee still lurks down in the basement a bit, but that’s not where the real punch of the film happens.
“The Woman” is the story of what appears to be a pleasant middle-American family. However, there’s a lot of rottenness beneath this facade. The father is an abusive sociopath. The mother is an enabler. The daughter is crippled emotionally from abuse. And the son is a sociopath in training. When the father finds a feral woman on his property, he captures her and holds her in his cellar. There, he tries to make her civilized. But this only pisses her off.
McKee, never one to shy away from controversy, juggles some impressive themes, including civility, raw emotion and the true nature of crime. He frames the film in an incredibly uncomfortable shell and lets things come to a boil inside. He takes a character that was a villain in a previous film and makes her the sympathetic victim. It’s one of those movies that makes you root for someone you don’t particularly like and root against those that might not be personally the worst the world has to offer. All characters are shades of gray, but they feel very real.
The only problems with this film is there are some elements that are so trite and unbelievable in an otherwise solid structure. In particular, I’m talking about the daughter’s teacher in school who feels like a cheesy supporting red shirt in an 80s slasher. Were she out of this film, it would be a stronger movie. Still, that shouldn’t keep you from watching it.
The Blu-ray includes a few deleted scenes as well as a behind-the-scene featurette that actually offers some interesting insight into how the film originated and come to fruition. There’s also a music track dubbed “Distracted” by Sean Spillane. Finally, Lucky McKee drops his weird little animated short film “Mi Burro” into the special features. It has nothing to do with “The Woman,” but it’s worth watching nonetheless for a taste of the bizarre.