12 January 2019

Review: The Woman (2011)

Lucky McKee's The Woman has been causing controversy ever since its eventful premiere and Q&A session at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011, where there were numerous walk outs, faintings, and one particularly irate audience member calling for the film to be banned (there is plenty of footage on YouTube if you want to seek it out).

McKee's film has been praised by some as a gritty and disturbing look at misogyny, while others have mistaken the film itself as an exercise in misogyny (presumably by those unable to grasp the concept of portraying something as a means of examining and critiquing it).

A follow up to The Offspring, The Woman sees Pollyanna McIntosh (these days most well known as Jadis in The Walking Dead) reprise her role as the titular feral woman, captured by local hunter Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers), and imprisoned in his cellar under the guise of civilising her. His family go along with this, but gradually things begin to go seriously awry as real intentions become clearer leading to a brutal and bloody showdown (with a real out-of-the-blue twist).

The Woman is certainly not easy viewing but it is intelligent, well written and thought provoking. Pollyanna McIntosh's performance is simply stunning, and she is ably supported by the rest of the cast including McKee regular Angela Bettis. This is a brilliant example of horror challenging the viewer and examining a very real issue in society.

If you read McIntosh's character as the repressed anger of Bettis' abused and subjugated housewife then this is clearly a powerful examination of the effects of domestic violence - taken further through the implication that the son is being groomed to inherit the same attitude as his father thus continuing the cycle.

Not an easy film to recommend without advising caution, but without doubt one of the best horror films to emerge last year.
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