Feral behavior is in the eye of the beholder, much like evil!
Written By: Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee
Directed By: Lucky McKee
My wife and I had a hard time understanding the controversy that accompanies The Woman. We watched the video of an angry fan walking out of the premier of the film and causing a ruckus with his claims that the film was degrading towards women and complete garbage in general. I’m of the belief that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I’m also of the belief that the man in the video is pretty darn crazy. The Woman lays out its intentions early, and often. Lucky McKee’s film is not afraid to show violence, and not afraid to put its female characters through the wringer.
Mr. McKee does so not out of some hatred towards women, but out of a desire to expose the way women can be treated. This treatment can apply to the film world and to the real world. The eldest daughter is no doubt a victim of molestation, the wife is in a battered state, and the youngest daughter is oblivious to everything. The son meanwhile wants to follow in the footsteps of his dad, for the simple reason of his dad being someone he looks up to. This is a family with deep seeded issues, and that makes their problems a slice of reality, no matter how far fetched the premise seems.
The characters in The Woman are heightened extension of reality, but the key is the core of reality they do possess. Chances are that most of us don’t know a man who beats his wife, rapes his daughter, and has a feral woman tied up in his shed. However, it is highly likely that most of us either know or have been privy to a man who is abusive towards the women in his life. That abuse can be emotional or physical, but either way it is abuse and it is far too often the type of abuse that society has learned to turn a blind eye to.
The main villains of The Woman are a father and son, but they are not the focus of the story. Their antagonistic actions move the story along, but it is in the female characters that the heart of the story comes to life. Each female character we meet has certain qualities that help to enhance the story. The wife, Belle, is the strongest character, not in terms of her inner strength but in terms of how she is realized within the film. She takes a lot of abuse, and she stands by and watches a lot of abuse occur. She is not heroic, she is in many ways complicit in the actions of her husband. Her character suffers the most in the film but she also stands by and watches just as much suffering being dealt out to other characters.
Belle is used to question the idea of the innocent bystander and where the audience is willing to draw the line in regards to compliance. Her ultimate fate is the true test of how the audience interprets her inaction. If you are okay with her fate then she should have stepped up more and become a character of action. If you question what happens to her than you believe she was a character trapped in circumstances beyond her control. Either way Mr. McKee, together with Jack Ketchum, leave her character up for interpretation.
I focused on the wife so much during this review because her character showcased the elements of The Woman that deserve to be highlighted. Mr. McKee has crafted an intelligent horror film, one that is not about suspense, death, violence, or scares. His horror film is about action versus inaction and what society is willing to ignore. The acting is solid, with Pollyanna McIntosh and Angela Bettis being the clear standouts, and the themes are implemented in a refreshingly frank fashion. Aove all else The Woman is a film that sparks thought, and intelligent debate. The Woman is a piece of art, one that gives women their due without ignoring the flaws they inherently possess as human beings. The one thing The Woman is not is a piece of garbage, or a film without merit. Maybe some will disagree with that sentiment, but I know great thinking man’s horror when I see it and that phrase dscribes The Woman to a T.