Thursday, November 01, 2012

Horror Thoughts ‘12—The Woman (2011) ***½

R, 101 min.
Director: Lucky McKee
Writer: Lucky McKee, Jack Ketchum
Starring: Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Angela Bettis, Zach Rand, Shyla Mulhusen, Carlee Baker

I can always count on Horrorfest to present me with story lines I never could’ve imagined without the filmmakers. In Luck McKee’s “The Woman” we meet a man with some serious issues. We know he has some serious issues when he finds a feral woman in the woods while hunting one day, captures her, and chains her in his family’s storm shelter. This event is a family affair. He doesn’t hide what he’s done from them. He involves them in his “training” of the woman to be civilized.

The man, however, is sicker than any feral woman might be. He really isn’t interested in civilizing anyone. He is a lawyer who apparently doesn’t get enough power satisfaction from the lives that dangle in his care during his day job. The movie has a great deal to say about gender roles in our society. Or maybe society has nothing to do with it.

The woman is both monstrous and nurturing in a wild animal sort of way. I suppose the difference between her and the other women in the story, the man’s wife and teenage daughter, is that she isn’t repressed by the society that they embrace. That gives her more power than most women, although throughout most of the story she is a captive of the man and even of his son, who doesn’t yet understand the power he wields over the women in his life. Both men are frightening.

The movie comes from a man who made one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen, the 2002 film “May”. McKee seems to have an unusual ability to understand the female position in a male dominated society. “May” explored an awkward girl’s attempts to fit into society and the surprising darkness lying underneath her battered psyche. “The Woman” is more direct and really much less of a horror movie than that masterpiece, but it is just as unique and offers an equally frightening female perspective on the roles gender plays in a society still so dominated by the male ego.

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