Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Film Review: The Woman (2011)
I first heard of The Woman when I saw it was doing the rounds on the film festival circuit. I had read some rave reviews and it generally seemed to be making a splash, so I decided to rent it via LoveFilm. Directed by Lucky McKee, the film is one of the best horror films o come out of America in recent years.
The film tells the story of the Cleek family who are attempting to 'civilise' a feral woman that the father, Chris, (Sean Bridgers) has captured whilst on a hunting trip. Although the women in the family are clearly shocked, appalled and against the idea, his sinister teenage son Brian, relishes the thought. After the women are forced to participate in the civilisation tasks set by Chris, they soon discover that it is much harder than they initially thought, especially as the woman is uncooperative.
However, all hell breaks out when she is finally free from her restraints.
I like how this film explores the idea of civilisation vs uncivilisation. The audience is left wondering who exactly is the uncivilised party after the captured woman and the wife and eldest daughter of the Cleek family are abused and subject to violence. It also gets us thinking about what could be going on behind the closed doors of our friends and neighbours unknown to the rest of the world. It also makes us consider if being civilised really is the best way to be. The woman is clearly happy surviving in the natural world; why force changes on those deemed feral just so that those who are civilised don't have to understand worlds other than their own. It is fear of the unknown that forces civilisation on the uncivilised. To me, it is this thought that is far more scary than that of being attacked by an angry feral female.
One of the main things I liked about the film is that I feel like I hadn't seen it before. Usually it is the wild, cannibalistic people chasing and terrorising the ordinary family, so I felt this was a bit different. It also brought out that feeling where you want to yell at the tv screen whilst you're watching it. One key example of this is a scene where the woman's restraints are beginning to come lose. The woman makes continuous eye contact with Belle, the mother (Angela Bettis) and they seem to have a connection. As a viewer, you have all of your fingers crossed that she won't say anything and gives the woman an opportunity to escape, but instead she points out the loose restraints to her husband. It's almost as if she can't free the captured woman because she can't even free herself from her husband's violence.
My favourite part of the film are the performances of Pollyanna McIntosh and Alexa Marcigliano who play the woman and 'Socket' respectively. Alexa plays a feral, dog-like girl and her performance is just out of this world! I've never been so convinced that a person was genuinely raised by dog! She is by far the most underrated character and I would have loved her to have featured more heavily throughout the film. Alexa reminds me of Doug Jones who plays the Faun/Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth (2006). Pollyanna's performance also makes the film. If the title character hadn't been played just right it would have destroyed the dynamic of the entire film. She is brilliant and still manages to look amazing with dirty covered skin and matted hair. The two older children played by Lauren Ashley Carter and Zach Rand also give excellent performances.
As a horror film I think it manages to balance the build up of the plot with the gore and violence of the conclusion really well. I was drawn in finding out about the Cleek family, and was kept intrigued by the fast paced nature of the ending. I can see why people were shocked, at the end of the day the Cleek men do some pretty awful things. I don't however feel that it is a feminist film. I think it is a film that deals more with nature vs civilised society rather than a females' triumph over a male.
I would highly recommend this film and will be buying it asap for my dvd collection!