I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? The Woman (2011)
What’s it rated? Rated R for unbound misogyny, the worst aspects of human nature on full display and making me feel mad and dirty.
Did people make it? Written by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee. Directed by Lucky McKee. Acted by Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Angela Bettis, Lauren Ashley Carter, Zach Rand, Carlee Baker and Shyla Molhusen.
What’s it like in one sentence? It’s a metaphor about what it means to be civilized.
Why did you watch it? I was going to watch Ink, but then I saw this had just become available and I went for it because I’d heard good things.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Lawyer and family man Chris Cleek (Bridgers) goes out into the woods behind his house one early morning to do some hunting and finds a feral woman (McIntosh) bathing in a stream. He throws her in a net, knocks her out and takes her home. He then chains her up in an outdoor cellar and (after The Woman bites the top half of his ring finger off and eats it) decides she needs to learn how to be civilized. Once he introduces his wife, Belle (Bettis), his son, Brian (Rand) and his two daughters, Peggy (Carter) and Darlin’ (Molhusen) to The Woman, things get a little ugly.
Play or remove from my queue? It’s three-quarters of a great movie, but leaves a little to be desired by the finale. First and foremost, the performances by Sean Bridgers and Pollyanna McIntosh are incredible. Bridgers creates one of the most profoundly evil screen villains of all time. He has this carefully crafted mask of friendly affability that he shares with the public, but when he comes home to his family, there is a menace that arises that is chilling to behold. It’s not that as soon as he’s behind closed doors he’s violent or anything, he just has some issues with women, and his complete disdain for the female species is scarily accurate to some of the misogynists I’ve met in my life. Everything is fine until a woman tries to tell him what to do, and then he loses his shit completely, but then even his cruelty is combined with an Aw-Shucks sort of sensibility that actually made me feel a bit sick to my stomach. McIntosh plays The Woman with such ferocity, mixing alien tics and throat ripping guttural murmurs that I found myself unable to take my eyes off of her anytime she was in the frame. I haven’t seen Offspring yet (which has the origin of The Woman and is also based on a novel by Jack Ketchum), but I’m certainly going to track it down now just so I can see more of McIntosh inhabiting this character.
The performances are what sucked me in and Lucky McKee’s steady and simple direction kept me interested. Plus, the way he uses music in the film is pretty excellent, as well. There’s a half-dozen pop songs that are great songs by themselves, but mixed with some of the truly depraved imagery it creates a surreal juxtaposition that made the film irresistible to me. The film builds tension expertly and, since the film moves at such a brisk (almost hypnotizing) pace, I was shocked when the finale crept up and it was already time to say goodbye to these characters. I really enjoyed McKee’s May and I enjoyed parts of The Woods, but couldn’t really stand his episode of Masters of Horror, Sick Girl, so I figured The Woman could go either way. For about 75% of the running time I felt like I was watching a new genre classic, but right around the point where the oldest Cleek girl’s concerned teacher shows up to the house, the film started to lose me.
I can’t go into the specifics until we get to the spoiler section next week, but let me give some vagueries anyway. The final 20 minutes of the film abandons all the subtlety of the majority of the film and becomes sort of a grand guignol bloodbath. Now, if you’ve read this column before you know that I am a pretty big fan of bloodbaths, grand or otherwise, but by descending into what almost amounts to a slasher film in the final scenes, The Woman loses all of its thematic resonance and becomes just another horror film. Which is fine, but McKee didn’t seem content with just being another horror film for 2\3 of the running time. As it stands, The Woman is an entertaining and grisly piece of horror, but it could have been so much more.
Do you have a favorite line? My favorite line is a spoiler, so I’ll drop it next week.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? The novel The Woman was released to coincide with the film. I haven’t read any Ketchum yet, but I think I’m going to now. Any recommendations?
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Outcast (I’m becoming a fan of the Bloody Disgusting label of horror films, so I’ll add it to the queue), Chop (same for this one), Wake Wood (even with Littlefinger, this was a snooze), The Lost (also based on Jack Ketchum’s work. Added.) and Parents (I love this movie with all of my heart and soul).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? Boxing Helena? Watching Sean Bridgers be hilarious and awesome on Deadwood?
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.8
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3.0
Can you link to the movie? Sure!
Any last thoughts? I guess I never said whether to play it or not. It’s worth watching with realistic expectations, but don’t expect the landing to be stuck. Go ahead and play it with reservations.
Did you watch anything else this week? Safe was entertaining, but frustrating. Statham is awesome beating ass for the first half of the movie, but then in the final few action beats and the finale, all he does is shoot people. Don’t cast a martial arts badass in a movie just to have him go “Pew-Pew” at the end. Dicks.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, A Town Called Panic? It’s slipping away from me like a strange and beautiful dream. There are no spoilers because it’s a film that exists outside of the ability to be spoiled.
Next Week? Ink. I swear this time. After that I’m thinking Fish Story.