DVD Review: The Woman

Lucky McKee is without question one of the most controversial working horror directors. His most notable work, 2002’s May, has gained a cult following, however, his Masters of Horror episode, Sick Girl and the Brian Cox revenge thriller, Red, are also worthy of a watch. Channeling many similar themes to the above mentioned films his latest feature, The Woman (a sequel to the little seen Offspring), follows  lawyer and family man, Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) who on a hunting trip discovers a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) living in the woods, he makes the decision to kidnap her and civilize her so she can fit into human society. However, it soon becomes clear that his intentions are not so clean cut.

It’s clear that McKee’s is a filmmaker it a prominent feminist agenda and The Woman is unquestionably a brutal stab (excuse the pun) at extreme misogynistic attitudes. These attitudes are portrayed through Chris Cleek, the family’s patriarch and the treatment of his wife (who acts as his punching bag), timid daughter and of course, the woman herself. We also see some chilling moments when it’s clear that this misogynistic streak is alive in Cleek’s son (we see this in particular from one disturbing encounter between him and the woman involving a pair of pliers). The characters are magnificently written, with each woman slowly gaining strength against this repugnant father figure and I personally was on the edge of my seat waiting for him to get his comeuppance. However, McKee unfortunately makes no attempt to avoid generalising, there are no normal male characters in the film – the sort that would abhor the behaviour of the male Cleeks. This generalisation damaged the impact of The Woman for me and I got the impression McKee feminist agenda got the better of him.

The Woman is dark, brutal and features a fair amount of gore that you’d expect from a genre film. There is a certain satisfaction in the shocking climax with suspenseful and particularly unconventional direction from McKee. Throughout, the performances are solid, in particular Scottish actress, Pollyanna McIntosh who gives an extremely visual performance (the character communicated with a series of grunts) – yet it was still clear what the character was thinking. Also, Angela Bettis (Belle, wife of Chris) particularly stood out for me as the timid housewife desperately trying to find the courage to stand up to her vile husband.

The sheer brutality and misogynist elements may put many off from seeing The Woman, but it’s strong feminist stance makes for an interesting and original piece of horror filmmaking. There’s also solid performances from Bettis, Bridgers and McIntosh and bold direction from McKee but ultimately suffers from the generalisation that all men are misogynistic animals.

★★★


Rated: 18 (UK)| Release Date: 17th October, 2011 (DVD & Blu Ray) |Director: Lucky McKee |Cast: Pollyanna McIntosh, Angela Bettis and Sean Bridgers

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