The Woman (2011)
September 6, 2020 9:24 PM - Subscribe

A lawyer puts his family in jeopardy when he captures the last member of a violent clan (Pollyanna McIntosh) and tries to forcibly tame her.

Directed by Lucky McKee. Available for rental streaming in the US via Google Play, YouTube, etc.
posted by DirtyOldTown (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you are the kind of person who scans FF threads without having seen the film, be warned: this film is basically a test case for where trigger warnings come down in terms of content vs. intent.

This features vile, physical and sexual abuse of a woman. BUT... this is presented in terms of a harsh, feminist critique of the patriarchy. Be warned.

I am posting this because I am about to post a thread for the Pollyanna McIntosh-directed sequel right after this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:26 PM on September 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

This movie is based on a book by Jack Ketchum. Ketchum's work is often brutal. For example another movie based on his work, the Girl Next Door, is a extremely graphic portrayal of the Sylvia Likens murder. So even for a horror hound like myself, I approach his work with extreme caution.

McKee also directed May (a frankenstein-ish tale) and All Cheerleaders Die.

I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed this film, but I certainly appreciated the message of it. I don't think it's just about patriarchy, but also in this film christianity is used as justification for the lawyer to be cruel to those around him. "We need to civilize her" is juxtaposed against him abusing his family and raping The Woman.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:47 PM on September 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just followed a really interesting Wiki Trail to find that this is part of an unofficial series, which began with a novel that was partially based on the story of Sawney Bean, a medieval cannibal, and his family.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:37 AM on September 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Helluva series, this.

And yep, there's more to it than just a critique of the patriarchy... Ketchum and those adapting him have plenty to say about religion, society, and civilization in general.

Pollyanna McIntosh didn't land this one entirely, but she's clearly got chops. Add it to her phenomenal talent in front of the camera and she's one of the bright lights of contemporary horror
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:04 AM on September 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Crap, that second graf should've been posted under Darlin'. At least there are no spoilers.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:17 AM on September 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I thought this was a well-made film when I saw it way back when and have been curious about its sequel, so thanks for posting this. I've also read Ketchum's novel about the Likens murder, which was pretty strong stuff but, like this film, didn't seem titillating or exploitative in the least.

I recall this movie causing a bit of a kerfuffle at Sundance—I'm not sure what it is about festival audiences that makes them so prone to start shouting things or fainting or storming out of the theater in a huff when they see something on screen they don't agree with.
posted by whir at 10:53 AM on September 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

May is one of my favorite movies, but it seems like it's lightning in a bottle. McKee just never reached that height again. This is a better movie than his Suspiria pastiche, The Woods, mostly because of Pollyanna McIntosh, but it's not a great film, in my opinion. I think it could have been less graphic and more thoughtful.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:16 PM on September 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just rewatched this, as a refresher for Darlin'. It's kind of an odd bird, there is a lot more slow motion and a larger number of music montages than I remember, and a ton of dissolves and slow fade-outs. One thing I like about it is that it sort of sets up a Texas Chainsaw Massacre type "demented family in the woods" scenario, but with all the roles reversed - it's the suburbs rather than the country, and the villain is a respected lawyer instead of a gas station attendant, the Woman stumbles into trouble and then is held captive by the family, and the high school teacher might as well be the local sheriff who comes up checking on the missing teens, providing a shred of hope to them before being killed by the antagonist.

One thing that wasn't clear to me in the film was the origin of the cannibal kid who they keep in the dog kennel.
posted by whir at 4:58 PM on September 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

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