The Woman

tn_womanHonestly all I knew going into THE WOMAN was who made it, that it was supposed to be really good, and that some dude flipped out when he saw it at Sundance and had to be removed as he yelled that the movie had no value and should be burned.

The director is Lucky McKee (MAY) and he wrote it with the novelist Jack Ketchum, who he also collaborated with on RED (the good RED – sorry Bruce). I liked both of those movies quite a bit, but this is McKee’s best work yet. It’s surprising and it’s darkly humorous and it’s the rare horror movie that works without following the template of any previous movie, at least not one that I can think of. So this is one of those reviews that I recommend you don’t read yet unless you either already saw the movie or don’t plan to see it. I didn’t see a trailer or anything and I was glad I didn’t really know what it was about at all.

After seeing the movie I finally did read what it was about. Some people (including McKee) say it’s about a middle class family trying to civilize a feral woman. Okay, sort of, but “trying” might be too strong of a word. A family making a genuine effort to do that would be an interesting story too, but that’s not what this is. They keep The Woman chained up in a shed for days before they even try to clean her off. Eventually they give her clothes, but they don’t teach her anything. It’s not like she’s Edward Scissorhands and they condition her to eat dinner with them and pass the butter and everything. It’s more like a wild animal they’re trying to keep as a pet, but she’s so dangerous they can’t give her any freedom at all.

I once knew a guy that built a big cage out of sticks and said he was gonna catch a crow in it. I don’t know if he ever pulled it off, but if he did I bet he never taught the crow to sit on his shoulder and eat seeds from his hand. And that doesn’t happen with this The Woman here either.

mp_womanThe genius of the story is how casual it is about this insane idea. It kind of acts like this is ordinary small town living. It’s obvious that there are problems in this family of five. The older daughter (Lauren Ashley Carter, who looks like a baby Helena Bonham Carter but doesn’t seem to be related) is clearly depressed at the very least, the son (Zach Rand) seems a little cruel (he sits and watches dispassionately as other boys manhandle a young girl at a barbecue), the mother (Angela Bettis from MAY and THE TOOLBOX MURDERS) seems distant, the dad (Sean Bridgers, CHILDREN OF THE CORN II: THE FINAL SACRIFICE) seems like kind of a dick. But all that’s very middle of the road for a horror movie family. They’re not obvious psychos like a TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE or overcompensatingly wholesome like a STEPFATHER.

Because of that it’s more unsettling (and darkly funny) when dad has the whole family helping clean out the basement for a surprise project. He saw that feral-Xena-looking woman while he was hunting earlier so we’re thinking wait a minute, is this guy really gonna– yep, he wants to sneak up on her outside of her wolf-cave, throw a net on her and drag her to the basement to keep as a pet.

He gets her all chained up, deals with the wound she gives him and then excitedly brings the whole family down to show them what he brought home. They seem a little shocked but they roll with it and are ready to chip in with new responsibilities, as if they just got a new dog or a baby brother.

Despite this extraordinary thing going on in the family the movie slyly continues with more ordinary subplots: the boy is jealous of a girl that shoots free throws better than him, the girl’s geometry teacher is worried about her. It’s about the way people (or specifically men) can be cruel without even thinking about it. After The Woman (or “that animal lady” as the youngest daughter calls her) bites off the tip of the dad’s ring finger he says “That is not civilized behavior.” The so-called civilized get to decide what counts as civilized, so if they want it can include inequality, capital punishment, genital mutilation, apartheid, slavery, locking a wolf lady in your basement, whatever. They can do horrible shit and still act high and mighty when somebody violates one of their rules.

Bridgers (who looks kind of like Will Ferrell) is fantastic as the real villain of the movie, who for most of the running time seems to have no idea that he’s a bad person. The costumers also avoid giving him some kind of scary HOSTEL-worthy torturer’s outfit. At one point he wears pink kitchen gloves with daisies on them. Without seeming to play anything for laughs he got me with a bunch of lines, like when he tells the Woman “I’ve got kids to raise around here, young lady, and disobedience is not something I want them to witness.” Doesn’t mind them witnessing kidnapping and stuff.

Another favorite: “God only knows how she got that way, but we cannot have people running around in the woods thinking they’re animals, it isn’t right. It’s not safe.”

At least outwardly he seems to believe he’s doing the right thing, but of course he knows he has to keep this thing secret, he doesn’t go tell everybody at church that they’re doing a good deed. And plus we’ve had our suspicions about his motives since he first watched The Woman naked, hunting fish with a knife. The women in the family seem very worried, but they go along with it. The son seems intrigued and happy to help. He doesn’t even hesitate when his dad tells him to “get the scoop shovel” and clean up human feces. Eventually, when Mom questions the whole project with a charitably worded “Do you really think we should be doing this?” she gets slapped.

I have to say, I disagree with Crazy Yelling Man at Sundance. And I think he should give this movie another shot, he’d probly dig it the second or third time. Okay, that’s not true, I kinda feel like he was mistaken to think he was gonna enjoy the midnight horror movie that year. But he is clearly, blatantly wrong with his interpretation of the movie as having “no value” and “degrading women.” I hate it when numbskulls mistake showing something in a movie with agreeing with it. I don’t remember anybody saying that SILENCE OF THE LAMBS promoted skin-wearing. Of course the behavior in the movie is extreme, but from early on it seems way more interested in a very grim sort of satire than in what people usually mean when they say “shock.” It’s rubbing your face in a point, not in a bunch of blood and crying.

At first I saw it as being about how brutality can be disguised as “civilization,” but as I think about it more there’s obviously alot about gender in here. The father and the son (who’s struggling to be more manly) are cruel, they are rapists, they are competitive. That kid oughta have a crush on the girl who’s so good at basketball, or at least be her buddy. Instead he’s jealous and plays cruel tricks on her, too cowardly to even cop to it. She has no idea and thanks him for allegedly trying to help.

Meanwhile the mother and older daughter are obviously troubled about what’s going on, but too afraid to speak up. The daughter hides not only what’s going on in her family but other serious problems, even from a woman at school who really goes out of her way to help.

The only people mentally free from this patriarchal system are The Woman and the pre-school age daughter Darlin’ (Shyla Molhusen), who have been able to remain in their natural states. Darlin’ isn’t in the movie that much, but she’s hilariously oblivious to what’s going on and whenever she talks she has some weird thing that only a little kid would think to say. She seems a little scared of The Woman but also likes her enough to bring a toy radio out to the trap door and play Korean pop music and shit for her. I’m not sure if that’s what wolf-people are into, but it’s a sweet gesture.

The Woman is played by a woman named Polly McIntosh, and she’s so good I have trouble thinking of it as a performance. She has sort of manly features, broad shoulders, a weird posture and bitter eyes. I almost didn’t want to watch the behind-the-scenes stuff just so I wouldn’t have proof that she’s a normal human being. Turns out the story exists because she was so good playing the same character in a previous Jack Ketchum movie called OFFSPRING that he and McKee wrote a sequel about her. I’ve heard that OFFSPRING is terrible but that the book is good, and that it’s already a sequel to another book called Off Season that’s not a movie. I’ll check the books out, but for now it’s cool that THE WOMAN stands on its own and then turns out to have a backstory too.

At a late point in the movie there’s a bit of a surprise, a weird reveal that threw me for a loop at first. If you haven’t been spoiler warninged enough this is your cue that I’m gonna give away this little twist and the ending in this paragraph and the next one. It’s the part where you find out that the family also has some sort of a dog-girl living in their shed. When it first happened I didn’t like it, because it violated my idea that these people were almost normal when they decided to add a pet The Woman to the family. (of course, I had to ignore the implications that the daughter was being molested to go with this logic.) But I really like how they set it up without me even realizing it. There’s that scene where the mother says what’s going on with the dogs could put him in prison, and all I thought was “oh, what is he doing with the dogs? He’s keeping them locked up illegally?” After all, DMX got busted for having a bunch of dogs and leaving without having somebody feed them. It could happen. Then when this happens you realize what she’s really talking about.

But as this settled in I started to like it and it helped lead to what I thought was the most perfect ending I’ve seen in a while. This savage woman-beast, having murdered their parents, walks off into the sunset holding hands with Darlin’, and the dog girl running along side them like Lassie. And then the older sister (and unborn child) look like they decide to go too. What the hell is gonna happen? Are they really gonna all go live in a wolf cave together? If so this is definitely a better environment for the dog girl. And maybe even for Darlin’, assuming she gets to keep her radio. At least she won’t grow up to be like dad. It’s a disfigured parody of a Hallmark happy ending. Such a weird combination of horrible and hilarious and adorable that I just gotta love it. In baseball terminology it’s a walk off home run.

I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a new horror movie since MARTYRS, but the two are very different. This is not as polished, not as complex and not nearly as gutpunchingly brutal (although it is one of only a handful of movies last year where a kid gets beheaded and you kind of think he deserved it). But like MARTYRS it’s a disturbing story that plows through formula and expectations and comes out the other end a unique, almost even enjoyable experience. And covered in the blood of formula and expectations, I guess.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 6th, 2012 at 12:16 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

59 Responses to “The Woman”

  1. I haven’t heard of this one before, sounds like my kind of thing. But I can’t think of the film being trailered at the bottom without thinking of Ben Lyons review which was, I swear to God, “I like women in real life, but i didn’t like THE WOMEN”

  2. I kind of wish they had called this “Hell Hath No Fury”, the tag line from the poster.

  3. Yeah you really need to go and check out the novels Vern. They add a element to the Women that isn’t totally evident from just watching the film, also helps answer why she does what she does at the end of the film. I think watching the film with prior knowledge of the characters back round adds more depth and lets you on ahead of time just how dangerous the Women can be.

  4. I realized I forgot to talk about the ending, so I added two paragraphs near the end.

  5. I haven’t read this review at Vern’s recommendation, is it the Woman In Black remake with Harry Potter in the male lead?

  6. I’m also not reading this because some of my best recent horror movie experiences were when I knew fuck-all about the movie ahead of time and just let it have its wicked way with my mind-grapes. I will say, however, that I’m glad Lucky McKee got to make another movie. He seems more sincere about the genre than a lot of the other Splat Pack members. You get the feeling that he makes horror movies because there’s something deep inside that can’t be expressed any other way, not just because he watched a million of them on VHS when he was a kid. More Cronenberg than Carpenter, not that I consider either a pejorative.

  7. Ace – I don’t think it is that movie but yeah I won’t read the full review neither. Vern’s “I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a new horror movie since MARTYRS,” from the last paragraph was all the endorsement I needed; I’m going to see if this is on demand or something.

  8. Loved this one, made my list of favorite movies from 2011. Best horror movie I saw from last year. It’s strange and disturbing and intense and weirdly funny all at once. It’s a triumphant return for Lucky McKee, who I’m really glad to have back. I think this was every bit as good as MAY, and MAY is one of my favorite horror flicks from the 00’s.

  9. Also, I got to say that I loved the ending. SEMI SPOILERS I kind of suspected it was coming, based on some of the hints dropped earlier in the movie (especially the scene where the son is feeding the dogs and McKee very pointedly doesn’t show the scary dog in the cage), but that didn’t make it any less of a jawdropper. It’s just so fucking crazy and sick, and it retroactively explains so much of the movie. The whole time, you think it’s the first time this lunatic has done something like this, and you wonder why the children aren’t telling anyone, why the son takes it in stride and the wife goes along with it. And then you realize that this kind of weird shit has been going on their entire lives, that the kids have been raised to think this sort of thing is normal.

  10. Oh, also, question for those who saw THE WOMAN:


    Near the end of the movie, why does the mother tell the father that the son was caught masturbating while touching the woman? The kid was clearly torturing the woman with a pair of pliers. I mean, presumably he could have ALSO been jerking off, but if the mother was so horrified by what he was doing, why did she leave that part out? I didn’t get it.

  11. well shoot, I guess I have to skip this review then because I do want to see it


  12. It’s a great film and if you haven’t seen “The Girl Next Door,” another Ketchum adaptation which is more like Martyrs in the gut punching department, you should check it out. It’s one of the most unpleasant films I’ve had the “pleasure” of watching. It relies entirely on a set of great performances by women and the ending is one of the saddest I’ve seen pulled-off in a low budget film. It’s based on a true story, too, which just makes it harder to watch.

    I think the Sundance guy is representative of the PC crowd who “just won’t laugh at some things because my gosh; we have to be civilized for the sake of mankind?” They’re ignoring the horrors that happen on a daily basis in their civilization. It’s easier to turn a blind eye to hungry children and all that stuff that gets in the way of enjoying Glee. And they’re the ones we’re making fun of when we laugh at satire so they probably have their feelings hurt.

    Finally, that kid is not beheaded. She cuts him clean in half. I had to replay it a couple of times to verify it because it did sort of look like his head fell off but she hits him the abdomen and keeps going from there.

  13. I was also pleasantly (maybe not the right word) surprised by how much I liked this film. But it had one massive flaw in my opinion that you didn’t mention, and that was the overuse of generic pop songs every five fuckin’ minutes. It made me crazy. It seemed like the director wanted to license a bunch of his favorite songs but they didn’t have the budget so they had someone do some knock-offs. I guess it was supposed to give this big emotional feeling to it but it nearly brought down the whole film for me. But killer ending.

  14. After seeing this movie and reading up on it, I was interested to learn that Ketchum’s books were inspired by the true story of Sawney Bean and his cannibal clan, which is also apparently what Wes Craven based the Hills Have Eyes family on.

  15. Dan: I was confused about that too, I hope somebody else has an explanation.

    Wes: I meant to mention the music in the review. I don’t personally like that type of music but I thought it made the whole affair even more sordid because it sounded exactly like the local bands that end up on your usual non-horror indie dramas. I agree that it felt like “it was supposed to give this big emotional feeling” and it was so wrong that it was perfect. I don’t know if that was the intent, but it worked for me.

  16. I knew that “big emotional feeling” sentence sounded dumb, Now I wish I spent more time trying to articulate what I was trying to say ha ha. Anyway, again that ending was a great horror concept, wish I could put my finger on what it reminds me of… maybe EC comics or Creepy comics?

  17. “It’s rubbing your face in a point…” But what if the point is horesh**t ? Now forgive the harsh start and the bit of soapboxin friendo, but the general indulgence of feminist ideological tropes, absent applying the slightest wit of genuine critical analysis, is starting to get a bit grating at this late date. I mean, how far does it go toward missing the forest for the trees when a movie can depict every prominent male figure ( including a little boy for cryin out loud [ya know, none to subtlely getting in the “inherent male defectiveness” meme] ) as “cruel” “rapists”, and some numbskull stands up and decries it as a misogynistic film, as opposed to a screamingly unabashedly obviously misandrist one (not that misandry in modern culture is ever quiet or abashed or subtle). From the “Homer Simpson” archetype being the predominate pop culture image of fathers, to the half of the population whose genital mutilation (at infancy, no less [suck it up 2-week old, what are you, a p*ssy?!?] ) few bat an eyelash over, to young males now noticeably falling behind at the high school and college levels of ed., to males being over-represented (as in, not even close) in just about every social malady one can name – incarceration- homelessness – unemployment – drug addiction – mental illness – suicide – workplace death, to not being able to remember the color of the prostate cancer awareness ribbon***cause oh yeah, it doesn’t exist…that whole “patriarchy” spiel is starting to become a bit of a head scratcher .

  18. This also made my top ten for last year. The moment
    when Angela Bettis spazzes out when Chris
    shrugs off his son’s behaviour with “boys will be boys” is probably one of my all-time favourite acting moments.

    The whole thing (SPOILERS) with the dog-girl is slyly hidden in plain sight throughout the film. There’s a reference to a third daughter, and the scene where the son gets pissy when he feeds the dogs. Then towards the end when Chris and his wife argue, and he throws the expression “Opthalmia” at her – a term relating to a child born with only one or no eyes. The inference being that Chris had convinced his wife that their handicapped child was less than human.

    Its when you see the dog girl that you start to comprehend why on earth this family hasn’t gone running to the cops to have daddy locked up.

  19. Rogue – well, that wasn’t the point I meant, but I don’t know about that stuff, man. All I can say is from my own experience I have never felt like men had it too bad. Yeah, lots of problems you mentioned are real problems. Also, women get raped, beaten, murdered, alot of them get brainwashed to feel like they gotta be skinny unhealthy painted up fake people. And then men still pick their looks apart. They get paid less, hold less positions of power in government, in entertainment, in other places. Women gotta genuinely be careful about going outside at night. Even women *soldiers* get raped on bases. I’m not gonna go crying to them about when I was a baby some doctor made it easier for me to clean my dick my whole life. That’s white people problems, or whatever.

    I might understand your reaction more if the characters in the movie did feel like bullshit to fit an ideology, but they completely ring true to me. The wife and daughter who fear the father, the son who fears him in a different way, the way the children pick up things from their parents, the kid’s senseless cruelty to the girl at school. All very familiar.

    Also, the titular Woman, the purest specimen of femininity untouched by the patriarchy, is a cannibal. So it’s more of an indictment of humanity than just men, in my opinion.

    But we can at least agree that it’s hilarious that the Sundance guy saw it as an *anti*-woman movie. And I appreciate the opposing viewpoint. thanks Rogue.

  20. In Vern we trust. Thanks for making me watch this.

    I disagree about the soundtrack btw. To me it just drove home that the movie is told from Peg’s perspective, who tries to block out her own problems and the crazy shit going on at the house through the time-tested teenager method of melancholy guitar pop. That doesn’t work out too well for her.

    The way the lyrics keep commenting on what’s going on in the movie (like when dad rapes The Woman and the son watches) cracked me up too.

    Also, don’t shut this off during the credits, Darlin’s little fantasy scene that comes after them is the bomb.

  21. Man if I could get her into spices and BBQ sauce I’d go with her too.

    The paperback version of The Woman I got hold of has a short story tacked on the end called “The Cow”. It continues the adventures of our cannibalistic amazonian heroine and new family through the eyes of a character given the same honour as another character from Offspring.

    Dan: It seemed to me that they went back and reshot that scene with added pliers to give the little bastard one up on his dad in the cruelty department.

  22. Fuck me rogue, what the hell planet are you living on lol. It’s all about power, and bitches dun have it including in any of your examples.

    Stats are a funny thing. Men higher on drug addiction when you include alcohol and exclude barbituates sure. And coincidentally men win in mental illness by standing in two of your categories at once cos that’s alcoholism as well. Men got one – they are 3 times more likely to be sociopaths – which ironically all the women in their life will wear the brunt of – most men would consider it a bonus, certainly a career boon – but depression, anxiety, somatic disorders – all women. The bio shit like Schizo etc. are all equal opportunity psychoses. Suicide – ya, men suceed more, but women try to kill themselves at astronomically higher rates compared to men – they just are engendered to suck at violence, but after you talk to a few thousand of them you realise they want to kill themselves just as much as men.

    Workplace death is a funny one – cos it dun include housewives see – if it did, the rates would just a wee bit different. Also when bitches die, they are way more likely to die at hands of their personal patriarchy.

    That’s all not even lookin at what Vern touched on – that the odds of being sexually assaulted are fucking insane. I think prison is prolly a good microcosm for men to get a feel of the vulnerability of being a woman lol. Hopefully you dun have to go there before you understand that you have your head in arse, or at least a head in your arse, as it were.

    Ta for review. The Woman was fantastic. Offspring… not at all as bad as people say IMO as I really liked it but ya, is still true to say the sequel is a better film on every level.

  23. nabroleon dynamite

    February 7th, 2012 at 6:43 am

    May-The Woman-The Girl Next Door-The Offspring

    Good Girly horror in order of goodness.

    The Woman has a good after credits thingy worth peeping!!

  24. Dan: Some thoughts on your question re: the lie about the brother molesting the woman. The mother only knew what the daughter told her, right? Since she didn’t actually witness it herself? So maybe the lie, about the son being sexual with the woman instead of torturing her, came from the daughter? It still begs the question of why the lie, but maybe the sister was still trying to protect her brother somewhat, viewing him as a victim of their father just as she was? That he wasn’t a bad person, but he’d been raised by a bad man, and there was still time to turn him around? And she might’ve thought that would generate less hate for the brother? Since she knew his father loves sexually abusing people? (i.e., her. It was made pretty clear by the father’s speech to the daughter–about women seducing men and tricking them into sleeping with them, but then not even being that good, etc…I don’t recall exactly what he said–that he raped her).

    But then, of course, if the dad loved molesting people and there wouldn’t be any consequences, why do it in the first place? Why tell at all? She did tell the mother and not the father, so maybe it was a cry for help somehow to the mother? Like, being all, “this is what bro did to the woman” but really saying “this is what dad did to me”?

    I guess those weren’t thoughts as much as ten sentences ending with question marks, but maybe something to consider? I’d love to hear a more thought-out opinion on the matter.

  25. Dear complete stranger,

    I had wondered myself if maybe the daughter lied about it to the mom for some reason, but as you yourself point out, what good would that do? If she was trying to protect her brother, why tell on him at all? And if she didn’t want to tell the entire truth, why that particularly strange lie?

    I was also wondering if maybe it was something like… torture is normal to this messed up family, so maybe the sister thought her brother would get in MORE trouble if she said he was masturbating. But if that was the case, why wouldn’t the brother defend himself? He sure looked like he thought he was going to get in trouble.

  26. Your a class act and a good sport as always friendo. Kudos for that. But with regards to the characterization of the males just completely “ringing true” to you, thats where the aforementioned critical analysis comes into play. Give some genuine thought to why that is. I’m not dismissin your personal experiences if thats where your comin from, but I do know that the “father as abuser” archetype is just as ubiquitous as the “father as idiot” model in our popular culture. And give some genuine thought to why its so easy to blow off someone strapping an infant to a table and taking a turkey carver to its genitals with “why ya cryin about bein able to clean your dick easier” dismissiveness. So long as the infant is male. (cont. later)

  27. I’m really excited to see this. I saw McKee’s 2002 film May, which was really really good. It would make a great double feature with Amelie, sort of a yin and yang thing.

    I stopped reading the review at the point where Vern cautioned me to do so. But I’m surprised you all can get behind that Red thing. I thought it was one of the most aggressively retarded things I’ve ever seen… I can’t believe that scene where the gun shop dude helps him because he also had a heroic dog once is actually in a movie. (Actually the Bruce Willis Red IS even worse, I suppose…)

  28. (cont.) Because we just except, like so many other feminist tropes, the meme of males having and having always had it better, without question or reflection. Point is that alot of those memes don’t really hold up once the bearest minimum of factual observation and rational thought are applied. For example, it happens that children predominately suffer neglect/abuse at the hands of women. An easy enough conclusion to come to when one observes who children are predominately in the care of. Yet the “abusive father” image persists and is swallowed whole. The wage gap meme, which never takes into account the inclination of males toward riskier (and thereby higher paying) occupations, but instead puts forth the pretense that a women is paid less for the EXACT same job as her male counterpart. Which starts to wobble under the obvious question: Why wouldn’t these greedy, ruthless, sexually discriminating corporations follow thier greedy, ruthless, sexually discriminating inclinations through to there logical (and most profitable) conclusion, and just hire ALL WOMEN?? You mention women “getting raped, beaten, murdered, and culturally brainwashed” as evidence of their having it harder as if even one of those hardships is exclusive to women. Or as if even one of them disproportionately affects women. Tho I can guess which ONE your thinking of right now. Problem is that there is one and only one place in our society where a genuine “Rape Culture” exists. Where it is genuinely condoned, allowed to flourish as a means of control. Where the victims plight is genuinely responded to with indifference (and outright mocking “don’t drop the soap” humor in the larger society). That place would be prison. Does it stand to reason that more rapes are perpetrated in the environment in which the crime has consequence than the one in which it doesn’t? And again, save for very few examples, men are overwhelmingly represented in all categories of social malady. That includes victims of violent crime and murder. Yes females have always had to endure being objectified sexually, but how bout being objectified as instruments of utility and disposibility. Think of any dirty, dangerous job necessary for a society to function and thrive (combat, policing, firefighting, coal mining, nuke plant work, power line maintenance/repair, shipbuilding, construction) and you’ll find men predominately shouldering its burden, and paying the mortal price. Because OUR cultural brainwashing, involves being told that assuming such risk for the benefit of others is what a REAL MAN does. So again, just sayin Main Man, that “patriarchy” business deserves a little more thought.

  29. What’s obvious about the Crazy Guy At Sundance is that he is from Aspen. Characters like him populate the Fred Weisman documentary “Aspen” and I highly recommend it.

    Onto The Woman.

    I got to see this in a theater, and the actor who plays the son was in attendance to take questions afterwards with his mom. I will say the audience afterwards was in complete shock. They didn’t know what to ask, or what to make of the film. One of my questions for the boy was, aren’t you glad your parents aren’t like that? His mom laughed and said, how do you know we’re not?

    Pretty deranged premise. I agree with Vern that the lack of predictability is what makes it. Now, if I were to go back and watch it again I’m not sure that I could. The things they do to the Woman are just a little too twisted for me to experience more than one time. It’s like revisiting your favorite torture film or something. I don’t have a collection of torture movies for that reason.

    I think what I tried to understand was why Lucky McKee decided to make the film in the first place. Which I think is a question The Guy From Aspen was wondering too. And I don’t blame him. I’m not really sure what the seed was for making this, what kind of statement was being said with it, or if it was just intended to be entertainment. I didn’t really find the film that entertaining. Certain interactions maybe, any involving the father, or that last scene in the house before and leading up to the teacher from school arriving. That was a tense sequence, and it didn’t let up. The third act really blew me away. I guess I admire it the most for playing with our expectations and taking us down a path we would never anticipate. But once you know what direction it goes I’m not sure it invites repeat viewings.

  30. Rogue, it seems to me like you’re trying to argue that sexism is a myth. And if you really believe that there is no argument or logic that is gonna change your mind. And I have to admit I am a little taken aback by the circumcision argument, I didn’t know there was anybody that was upset about getting circumcised. But I think this is the horror movie of the year so I don’t want to turn it into a debate about those barely related issues.

    If you’re concerned that there aren’t enough images of bad mothers in horror I recommend the Psycho series, the first Friday the 13th and the second Scream.

  31. Don’t forget about Carrie, Vern. I won’t say worst mother in horror movie history, but I’m still scarred by the thought of her “mothering”.

  32. And then there’s BRAINDEAD/DEAD ALIVE, in which the mom is so evil that she drags her son bodily back into her womb.

  33. I think Rogue deserves a better answer than that. His posts did start me thinking about the way it’s perceived that life is always better if you’re a guy. Of course sexism exists, but there’s downsides to being a guy as well. Also, are you kidding about the circumcision thing? Easier to clean your dick, how about harder to jerk off? The tip of your dick being less sensitive, so less enjoyment during sex. All because of some stupid religious belief, you chop half a baby’s dick off before they’re old enough to tell you stay the fuck away from my dick with that scalpel! I’m sure circumcised guys will say it’s not a problem, but of course they would say that. There’s no way they’re getting that piece of skin back, they have to deal with it, adjust to a whole different system of masturbating. Better to just accept it and tell themselves it’s better this way. “Hey, at least it’s easier to clean my dick!”

    I don’t know where I was going with this, I should probably stop here. I enjoyed The Woman though. Loved the way it created tension and atmosphere for the longest time without showing a damn thing, just seeing the way his daughter and wife reacted to the dad made you think, what the hell is this guy capable of? Then at the end you learn and it’s way worse than you imagined.

    Bit weird how The Woman was able to cut a kid in half with a bit of wood though. Didn’t look that sharp to me.

  34. Ok main man, last post. Not tryin to belabor, browbeat, or impose here. You snagged me with an interesting observation/commentary, I tossed in my 2 cents. These boards zag and swerve into unexpected areas often enough so I thought I’d zip my soapbox racer thru on a little detour. So lets pull er into the driveway. To tell you the truth I can’t say I NOW have any complaints about my “trim”. But why would I (or anyone else) have to? Rational mature adults in every corner of the civilized world are rightfully horrified by and rightfully demand an end to the genital mutilation of young girls in thirld-world countries. Yes the male version is less severe in the context of functionality. But with a rationale no deeper than “he should look like his father” why do the same rational mature adults respond to the overwhelming practice of strapping infant males down and ginsuing their privates with total indifference. This friendo, is one of those small issues that dazzlingly illuminates a larger one. The over-all cultural indifference/dismissal of male hardship/pain. This illustrates the degree to which we deny male humanity. It’s how we can make no attempt to refute the overwhelming number of social ill s and hardships that disproportionately affect men ( many of which hold up generationally), yet still “feel” like men dont/didn’t ever “have it to bad”. This is the specific point I was refuting. Truth unfortunately is rather obstinately indifferent to PC/Feminist ideology. So if these observations make me a “sexism myther” this geek’ll just have to own it.

  35. Rogue: circumcision is bad.

    And women are denied equal rights in most of this world.

    One point does not cancel the other.

    But more importantly, someone chopping your dick when you are an infant is a crime of size x and the systematic denial of rights to women in most of the world is a crime of size 1,000,000,000x.

    Women have it worse in this world than men. This is is an undisputable truth. Take a look:


  36. I’ll admit that my first reaction to Rogue’s posts was to tell him his eyes must be brown because he’s so full of shit, but on reflection, he has some very valid points that are unfortunately lost amid the circumcision references, sketchy logic/facts, and his summing it up as truth vs pc/feminist ideology. Men are discriminated against and have hardships that go unrecognized or are dismissed by North American society. One that Rogue mentions is the concept of a “real man” doing “real man’s work.” I’ve seen this one first hand with my husband, who works in a field that is predominantly female. He’s been asked by relatives when he was going to go out and get a “real job,” even though the job he holds is quite difficult and rewarding, although maybe not as much financially. I’ve also seen men get passed over as the primary caregivers for their children because courts do generally award custody to the mother, even when the mother isn’t as fit of a parent as the father.

    Yet, the problems Rogue alludes to are not caused by feminism or denying humanity to males. It’s caused by the same societal bullshit that kept the majority of women out of the workplace until late into the last half of the previous century, allows politicians and religious ideologues to decide how a woman can or cannot use her body while also using women’s charities as political pawns and money-making schemes (Fuck you, Susan G. Komen for the Cure.), and inflicts all the things that Vern and others have mentioned upon a large percentage of women to this day. It’s the same shit that tells Vern he shouldn’t enjoy a well-made chick flick or that I shouldn’t get all “fuck yeah” when I see a good chase scene or gunfight in a fine action movie. (And it frowns on a mom of two cursing.)

    It all sucks ass, Rogue, but the suffering of men does not dismiss or diminish the vast amount of hardship women have faced as the “weaker sex” for centuries, and it does not turn valid points made in films like The Woman about the nature of how some men or some societies treat women. (Now if I agree with how that point is being made, I’m on the fence. Sometimes I think movies like The Woman, despite how good or innovative they are, actually diminish what is being said by how extreme it is. Too easy to dismiss as misogynist or too easy to focus on the depictions of torture rather than what they represent.)

    And as far as women and medicine goes…do you know how little there is known about the female body in terms of disease and function? They only recently started to realize that women have heart attacks differently from men, especially the warning signs, which is why heart disease has become the number one killer of women in North America. And don’t get me started on y our mental illness statistics, because there is growing concern that most mental illness in women goes unreported or undiagnosed. For women, you’re PMS-ing, not having serious issues with depression. For other women, you’re afraid of talking to someone about postpartum depression for fear you’ll be scrutinized as a mother or labeled as a freak like that Susan Smith. (And this one I know from experience.)

    Oh, and I circumcised both my boys. Didn’t do it personally. Used a doctor. No straps or turkey slicers. It wasn’t about religion. It actually goes against my husband’s religion. It was about medical issues that could arise later on in their life that I felt was going to cause worse pain for them as adolescents and adults than for that short, easily-forgotten time in their infancy. Plus, it should be easier for them to clean their dicks their whole life.

  37. And to go along with the theme of bad mothers, even if it’s a stretch, I suggest Rabid Grannies.

  38. And The WomEn is a horrible, horrible movie. Much more offensive to me than The Woman sounds like it would be. (I do like the original, though. I’m a sucker for young Joan Crawford.)

  39. I find the fact that Rogue is educated enough to read and interact on a movie site but yet holds these views so terribly horrific that I’m not even amused by the irony of you people and Vern being offended about the word F.A.G. and not being offended by the fact he’s not fucking with us. The only comfort I can take from this thread is his inability to structure a paragraph suggests some sort of defect, and that will have to be enough.

    Honestly though, if we were to rank the various ignorances available to define ourselves, misogyny surely is hands down worse than homophobia. Perhaps everyone ranks here ranks them differently, but I think a fair system of ranking is in proportion with the population. How come you cunts are all giving this a pass??? Lemme propose a table of hate we can all agree on

    Human rights ignorance – christians, republicans etc. 100% top of the charts. Worst ignorance possible.
    Gender ignorance: 50%
    Slope haters: 54% – i know is lower than 50, but gotta give a few points for chinese food and poon tang
    KKK views: 15% if limited to blacks, else could almost close on christians
    Homophobia: 10% – drops to a meagre 5% if you give a pass to dykes…
    Towel heads, dune coons/etc. 8%
    Taco slave labour: 8%
    Schizo ignorance: 1%
    Lawyers: 0.1%

    Mebbe animal rights (vs animal welfare) can be up there with christians at 100% too, and mebbe some environmentalists.

    Fuck you guys, watch The Woman again…

  40. Rogue – well, I guess I always believed the story that circumcision was to lower the risk of various infections and fungi and shit, but reading up on it now I see that its effects are exaggerated in that area. (Didn’t know it lowered the risk of HIV transmission though, that’s interesting.)

    But coincidentally what you’re describing here is exactly what I thought THE WOMAN was about: that people get to set the rules for what is considered “civilized” and pass judgment on others while committing acts themselves that are completely barbaric.

  41. In fairness to Rogue, the oppression of women in Muslim countries doesn’t necessarily support that THE WOMAN’s portrayal of gender issues in the U.S. as being accurate.

  42. Your, uh, chart confuses me, AU. But, as Barbie said, “Math is hard.”

  43. »Honestly though, if we were to rank the various ignorances available to define ourselves, misogyny surely is hands down worse than homophobia. Perhaps everyone ranks here ranks them differently, but I think a fair system of ranking is in proportion with the population.«

    I seriously hope this is a joke I don’t get because of the language barrier. The ranking in proportion with the population is a inhuman idea in itself.

  44. nabroleon dynamite

    February 8th, 2012 at 1:08 am

    I’d like to tell rouge straight up that sexism and racism often trump the fuck out of capitalism.

    As far as circumcision is concerned, everyone should check out the Penn and Teller “Bullshit” episode about circumcision on YouTube.

    Yeah, they are libertarian fucks but that show was awesome.

    @Mr. Majestik. Glad you enjoyed the awesome as fuck “The Last Circus” and it’s probably time for me to cop some next shit from you, so do you got any new editions to your movie list?

  45. This film reminded me most of The People Under The Stairs, but rawer and missing Everett McGill in a gimp suit. I love how films can have such totally different looks and feels when coming from similar ideas.

  46. Rouge makes some good points, but a lot of it sounds like when white people complain about there being a black tv channel, why is it wrong to want a white people’s channel? Like ALL of the other tv channels aren’t the white people’s channels.

    Mike A brings up good points about punching the clown.

  47. From my link above:

    ABBAS BE, A BEAUTIFUL teenage girl in the Indian city of Hyderabad, has chocolate skin, black hair and gleaming white teeth — and a lovely smile, which made her all the more marketable.

    Money was tight in her family, so when she was about 14 she arranged to take a job as a maid in the capital, New Delhi. Instead, she was locked up in a brothel, beaten with a cricket bat, gang-raped and told that she would have to cater to customers. Three days after she arrived, Abbas and all 70 girls in the brothel were made to gather round and watch as the pimps made an example of one teenage girl who had fought customers. The troublesome girl was stripped naked, hogtied, humiliated and mocked, beaten savagely and then stabbed in the stomach until she bled to death in front of Abbas and the others.

    This is reality. Who needs horror movies?

  48. Oof, are we really arguing about whether or not we live in a patriarchal world? Does Rogue not realize that when people talk about the “gender gap” in employment they are talking about a discrepancy in pay between men and women IN THE SAME OCCUPATION? I don’t even want to address that horrible shit about how male circumcision is comparable to a woman having her clitoris burned off, or vagina sewn shut. Really dude?

    About The Woman, which I just watched:

    1) I watched the Sundance Man’s youtube clip, read some of the comments. I am sympathetic to the speculation that the guy was a plant/publicity stunt for the film. At one point he says “I wanted to leave, I felt my body physically telling me to leave, but I just had to stay and watch, you know??” (paraphrased). That’s GREAT fucking publicity right? Plus like 99% of horror movies are more misogynistic than The Woman, I find it hard to believe that he believes what we are led to believe he believes.

    2) The Woman was very good and clever. Little moments, like when he first scopes in on her in the stream and the music kicks in BUT ONLY AFTER a beat. I agree with Vern that it in ways it is almost without precedent, but I would recommend you check out the movie TEETH which I found similar in spirit. What both movies do is take this concept that is absolutely overflowing with sticky possibilities, and then take great delight/enthusiasm in exploring those possibilities, subverting the audience’s expectations moment to moment with something that you can’t quite pin down as satire or horror. Both movies are aware that they confound your ability to categorize them and make it their business to exploit this. Both movies also can be interpreted as superhero origin stories, even though that’s basically the last thing you would expect going into ’em. And of course both are about the systemic abuse/repression of women.

    3) It’s already been noted that he’s not actually decapitated. I like that the kid got the same fate he visits upon the cookies. Fucking little shit. Like South Korean films, this movie implicates the audience somewhat because you are actually cheering for a child to be murdered by the end of it. At least, I was.

  49. One last thing. I am curious as to why everybody is so gung-ho on that Martyrs flick. I saw it when I was getting really into all that Extreme French New Wave stuff, and I found it absolutely confounding. The first half of the film is a deliciously taught thriller, but it totally falls apart once they introduce the Secret Society. I dug up Vern’s review but he doesn’t really go into his interpretation of what it meant.

    Anybody want to volunteer? Explain to me what I am missing and why this is so beloved?

  50. The Doctor – had to do some googling to find the meaning of “punching the clown.” Hadn’t heard that one before, thank you for helping me expand my vocabulary!

  51. nabroleon dynamite

    February 9th, 2012 at 8:25 am

    @renfield. When I watched the making of feature on The Woman dvd they showed footage of the guy ranting about how all copies of the movie should be burned.

    He didn’t look convincing enough when he said that. I think your “plant” call is perfectly valid.

    As for Martyrs (which is a Berfillion times better than The Woman) the secret society of martyr makers was the whole point for what happened beforehand.

    Maybe you should explain in further depth why that aspect of the film didn’t work for you.

  52. I live in a country that’s hailed as the most equal in the world. And when I see how far we still have to go, my thoughts go out to you guys way down on the list. And none of us are circumcised, but we know very well how to clean ourselves from a young age. Nothing beats a socialist upbringing, huh?

  53. Nabroleon dynamite:

    Given that my response contains spoilers about a different film, I will post it in the comments section of Vern’s Martyrs review instead.


  54. More thoughts on The Woman.

    It’s actually kind of comparable to a movie Dead Girl, which is about some teenage boys who discover this zombie chick chained up in an abandoned building. She’s sort of immortal so the boys can rape and torture her with impunity.

    I thought Dead Girl was a total failure of a film, and is furthermore good evidence that The Woman works better as a satire about “civilized” people rather than men vs. women. Basically, The Woman COULD be about how a typical American family is capable of shit like this. But it’s not, hence the entire final act. Dead Girl is saying exactly what The Woman could have been saying: these are totally normal people, and look at what they’re capable of! It rings very false on that note for me. Which is weird because teenage boys certainly are capable of disgusting inhuman mob mentality shit, but the film just didn’t explore it convincingly.

    Likewise I think that insofar as The Woman is trying to say “look at what men are really like deep down” and “women have to go retreat from civilization and form their own tribe to survive,” its not all that successful. Basically the women in The Woman get fucked over by the men not because they are less adept at physical violence, but because they assume they are in a situation with a civilized person when in fact they are not. For example the free-throw girl is a) MORE physically adept than Brian, and b) only at a disadvantage insofar as she gives him the benefit of the doubt that he isn’t a duplicitous sociopath. The same can be said about the teacher; there’s no reason she should have a ready defense for being assaulted by these psychos, and her ineffectiveness doesn’t stem from the fact that she is a female but from the above mentioned trait of mistakenly believing she is a member of a civil society.

    The Woman herself is sort of this deus ex machina, a hand of divine punishment who comes down and judges man and woman alike as being culpable or innocent of crimes against humanity.

    Yeah I’d say you nailed this one down Mr. Vern. The whole patriarchy thing is a distraction from what works best about the film. Maybe they should have reworked that “ALL women” speech that makes it so tempting to read it the other way.

  55. someone needs to explain that post credits sequence

    i’m undecided on this movie. it was well made n all, great performances. but the feminist attitude is insanely heavy handed. the message really jumped the shark when the father picked the daughter up and gave her that speech about what women are good for.

  56. Sorry I missed this review & thread’s time in the sun.

    My personal selection for best actress of 2011 goes to Pollyanna McIntosh for her work here*, even though I don’t think I much like the film overall. The beatings & demises of the various victimized females are too. . . telegraphed, and not skillfully enough built up to in the narrative & the father’s characterization.

    Hard to explain, I dunno, I just wasn’t shocked when he punched his wife and I wasn’t shocked at what happened with the over-concerned teacher. And when I’m not shocked by that stuff, that only leaves room for me to be disgusted, disturbed, and turned off. Same basic problem I had with THE KILLER INSIDE ME, though that movie is much much worse. To THE WOMAN’s credit, at least it’s kind of intriguing, with an interesting ending, and I still enjoy thinking about it weeks after my first viewing.

    *(Best supporting actress in 2011 goes to Elle Fanning for her work in SUPER 8, a film I disliked immensely.)

  57. The Sophisticated Panda

    April 29th, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I just saw this on Netflix Instant and came back to read the review/comments, as per Vern’s recommendation.

    My first impression was that the movie was a little too “on the nose” with its allegory. Vern mentioned that Sean Bridgers looks like Will Farrell, which is funny because the entire movie I kept thinking that Bridgers was deliberately cast because he looked and acted like George W. Bush.

    When Bridgers’ character captured “the Woman” and started talking about forcing civilization on her, I immediately thought, “okay, Lucky McKee wants us to think of the dad as George W. Bush and the Woman as Iraq”.

    After that scene, it was kind of tough for me to enjoy the movie because I thought of it as an extended parable about patriarchy and dehumanzation first and a horror movie second (when the best horror, I think, takes things the other way around- story/character/set pieces first, “politics” second).

    Still, the movie definitely makes me eager to see what McKee does next. I loved “May”.

    PS: I’m surprised that nobody referenced the unfortunate effect at the end when the Woman “throws” Angela Bettis’ body.

  58. This is finally on streaming, I just watched it on Amazon prime. Thanks for the recommendation Vern, I thought it was delightful.

  59. I’m glad! Be sure to recommend it to other people who like delightful movies.

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