Director Lucky McKee’s The Woman, a harrowing study on the darkness of human nature, polarised audiences and critics alike when it was first screened at numerous film festivals. Now available on DVD and Blu-ray, here’s your chance to see what all the fuss was about. Is it an out-an-out urban horror or a deeply disturbing social satire?
Co-written by horror novelist Jack Ketchum, McKee’s film follows family man and lawyer Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) as he finds a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) living in some woods and decides to lock her up in a fruit cellar on his land in a bid to ‘civilise’ her.
But the seemingly-normal Chris is actually a violent misogynist who wields absolute control over his family, especially his wife Belle (Angela Bettis) and trouble teenage daughter Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter), while his teenage son Brian (Zach Rand) looks set to follow in daddy’s footsteps, as he watches his father’s deeds through a spy-hole.
Chris’s process of educating the feral woman is to treat her one of the vicious dogs he has chained up in a barn. This only serves to ignite pent up feelings of hatred and anger in daughter Peggy, who sets in motion a series of events that eventually lead to her father’s ultimate comeuppance.
Brutal, shocking and deeply upsetting, The Woman, is not just the story of the poor feral creature locked up by the sadistic Chris Cleek, but of all the women who are under his control. As such, it has much to say about domestic violence, and questions the way we (the audience) view the portrayal of violence against women in films. It is very uncomfortable viewing to say the least. And while its not overly graphic in terms of the level of the violence portrayed, the real horror lies within the misogyny expressed by the lead character. Now that truly is terrifying.