To say that Lucky McKee’s The Woman isn’t a pleasant viewing experience would be something of a huge understatement. Taking a magnifying glass to middle class America and the dirty little secrets kept behind closed doors, The Woman paints a truly disturbing portrait of one aggressively dysfunctional family’s gradual unravelling. Jam-packed with vile acts and grotesque displays of violence, this is most definitely not a film for the faint of heart. However while it treads dangerously close to being slotted alongside other exploitation torture porn movies of recent years, in reality it’s a far too emotionally compelling film to be compared with such pointlessly sadistic purveyors of pain and suffering. Instead while The Woman is indeed an uncompromising horror film at heart that’s full of atrocious acts, its horror stems from the all to real cruelty human beings are capable of inflicting upon each other and their warped reasoning for doing so. A riveting viewing experience that’s only occasionally let down by evidently cheap production values, The Woman is a must see for those looking for a little more depth in their horror that the routine crop of cut and paste slasher films and zombie flicks simply can’t provide.
Shrouded in controversy before it was even released as a result of its infamous premiere screening at the Sundance film festival, The Woman is indeed a film quite literally dripping with ickiness. What makes it such an interesting journey into the heart of despair however is the fashion in which this sense of displeasure is slowly unleashed upon the audience. As the film begins we’re introduced to the Cleek family, just an ordinary American family enjoying a barbeque with neighbours in a small American town. However their laughter and small banter, as real as it may seem, is just a facade. For behind closed doors Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers), husband and father, controls his family with a violent iron fist. Failure to do what he says is met with the fiercest of casually inflicted violence. However the twisted extent of his warped ideals becomes fully apparent when during a routine hunting expedition, Chris stumbles upon a feral woman (Pollyanna Smith) roaming some backwoods. Convinced that he has the power to humanize the savage stranger and help her adapt to the modern world, Chris promptly takes it upon himself to kidnap the woman against her will and chain her up in his cellar. What follows is a torrent of cruel abuse as Chris attempts to teach the woman various lessons through the means of both psychological and physical torture.
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