It's not often that I put the "I Heart" designation in front of a film title, but it being Valentine's and all I decided it was finally time to trot it out again. I loved, loved, loved Lucky McKee's The Woman. I don't thing I have has such a strong reaction to a horror film since Martyrs. Is there something wrong with me? Without a doubt.
The Woman is an "unofficial" sequel to The Offspring. You can check out my review of that film here. The Offspring wasn't all that and a bag of chips, but it did fall under one of my favorite categories, which is the "Inbred Hillbilly Cannibal" genre. I had also read Jack Ketchum's books. The best part of The Offspring was Pollyanna McIntosh's performance as "the Woman", the leader of this particular pack of inbred cannibals. Lucky must have thought so as well because she is back in his film, which picks up pretty much where The Offspring left off. The Woman, injured, is wondering around the woods when she is spotted by Chris Cleek, a successful lawyer out hunting. Cleek immediately decides he is going to capture her and "tame" her, enlisting his family to help with the project. Now, if this does not sound like the thinking of a rational, sane person, you are right on the money. Chris Cleek is monster more dangerous than an inbred cannibal. Played by Sean Bridgers, Cleek may be one of the most terrifying villains I have encountered in quite a while.
He is lord and master of his house. The family lives in fear of him, especially his obviously abused wife Belle, played by the amazing Angela Bettis. Belle is trapped, both by her own fear and cowardice. She can't protect anyone, especially her own daughter, Peggy, who is pregnant (possibly by Chris himself.) Added to this mix is Brian Cleek, the young son who is happily following in Daddy's footsteps. The Cleek's are horrifying enough. Adding "the Woman" too the mix is a recipe for disaster.
Much has been said about the brutality of this film, and some have charged it with being misogynistic. I don't believe that Lucky McKee is a misogynist. Personally, I found nothing offensive in this film. Real women are sometimes weak and flawed, sometimes strong and heroic, and sometimes vicious inbred cannibals (OK, that last one does not represent a whole lot of women.) As far as the brutality is concerned, I can say that this is not torture porn. Most of the horrible stuff is suggested or off screen. It is emotionally brutal however, made more so by the terrific performances of Bridgers, Bettis, McIntosh, and Lauren Ashley Carter as Peggy Cleek.
Now let's talk about the ending. I don't want to spoil anything but lets just say you can't keep an inbred cannibal locked up and expect everything to be O.K. When the Woman gets her revenge, she gets it really good. I absolutely loved the very strange, unexpected ending. It was the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake.
Watch The Woman this Valentine's day with someone you love! Or not. But watch it. Its really good.