Short Review: The Woman (2011, McKee)


Summary from IMDB: When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to “civilize” the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy.

It is easy to appreciate just how committed horror director Lucky McKee and horror author Jack Ketchum are to their vision without buying into its execution. The Woman works as a seemingly contradictory exploitation flick with a feminist bent. It has a lot of commentary about patriarchal nature, parental influence, repression, societal freedom, domestic abuse and more. Yet on the whole, The Woman is all over the map and ends up being more like an uncontrolled frenzy than anything else by the time it is over.

For every great idea, there is something in its execution that never carries through. McKee clutters his soundtrack with moody alt-rock  songs by Sean Spillane, thus challenging the audience’s consumption of events based on superficial cinematic aids such as score. It has potential; if only those songs had been any good.

The film goes further and further into outlandish territory, daring us to gawk in disbelief at the lack of plausibility that can be found in situations that happen to be the most ‘real’. Again, a nice idea, and it works for a while…until it doesn’t. There is a forced suburban superficiality behind it all that is constantly working against itself. It never quite comes together because the satirical depiction of domestic life comes across as too transparent, too obvious. The transparency is headlined by Sean Bridgers’ performance as the father figure. It is a far too broad performance, and becomes distracting more than anything else.

Lucky McKee has a unique voice and promotes active audience viewing within the horror genre. Active viewing is always a good thing and McKee has that going for him here. The film starts out well but its last half hour goes off the deep end and loses its audience. The messy conclusion of a subplot that should never have been there in the first place does not help, not least because the main agent in said subplot is played by Lauren Petre, in what has to be the worst performance of the year.

Luckily, The Woman is aided by memorable work from Pollyanna McIntosh as the feral ‘woman’ of the title and a reliably great supporting turn from McKee regular Angela Bettis. The Woman constantly pushes and pulls between achieving its goal and falling short with the latter winning out in the end.

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One thought on “Short Review: The Woman (2011, McKee)

  1. I skipped this at Toronto After Dark since the trailer/premise did not entice me. I heard mixed things about it, much like your review! Once I get around to seeing MAY I’ll probably look into this one more.

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