The Woman

Director: Lucky McKee (2011)
Starring: Sean Bridgers, Pollyanna McIntosh, Carlee Baker, Angela Bettis
Find it: IMDB

I'm already a moviegoer in the minority that I didn't hate Andrew van den Houten's Offspring. It wasn't particularly good, but I was able to overlook the film's faults and enjoy it for the silly, gory bit of cannibal torture guff that it is.

More people are going to enjoy The Woman than they did Offspring, for The Woman is technically a good film. The story is a lot more original and more memorable, the acting is all around better and the film's villains don't look stupid. That said, those who don't like The Woman are going to be a lot more vocal about why they don't like The Woman than those who don't like Offspring. Case in point: this review and that one guy you saw on Youtube who got angry at a screening.

A sequel to Offspring (although you don't need to have seen that film to understand what's going on), The Woman sees the lone survivor (McIntosh) of a cannibalistic clan captured by Chris Cleek (Bridgers), an apparently normal lawyer intent on 'civilising' her. Except the men of the Cleek household turn out to be far more savage than the actual savage. See, this is one of those horror movies with a message.

The cinematic equivalent of Marmite (and by that, I don't mean that it's banned in Sweden), you're either going to love or hate this one. I thought that it was very good, but can definitely understand the viewpoint of those in the opposite camp. Its well-intentioned sexual politics may seem outwardly misogynistic to those inclined towards sensationalism; especially given that every woman in the film undergoes either a beating, rape or death. McKee and Ketchum are trying to drive the point home that men are bastards, and this unfortunately comes at the detriment of the female characters' well-being. I do not think that The Woman is a misogynistic movie.

As an adaptation of the novel, it's as straight as you can get. I really enjoyed the book too, and was disappointed that the short story/epilogue The Cow wasn't included. The Cow is the best bit in the book. Anyway, this adaptation adds things like cheesy music, really gross visuals and Angela Bettis. Reviews I've read (well, reviews longer than "go fuck yourself") criticise The Woman for its naff soundtrack. I liked the naff soundtrack. It fits in with the blackly comic tone and lightens things up a bit, making for a (slightly) less depressing experience.

The Woman isn't as clever as other arthouse torture guffers Martyrs and A Serbian Film, but it does have more to say for itself than The Human Centipede (and likely that film's sequel too). I really don't agree with rape as a plot device (ew, Deadgirl) but this does try to back it up with some sort of empowerment, even if the message leaves room to be misconstrued via the unpleasant content. The catharsis, when it comes, feels genuine and is a real adrenaline blast.

The Woman is a highly divisive movie, but one you need to see for yourself before you condemn it. For me, it's one of the best horror movies of the year.

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