Woman, The (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus stumbles across a wild woman in the woods and decides to catch her...
When Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) stumbles across a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) bathing in a woodland stream near his isolated country home, he readies his fruit cellar at his isolated family home and goes about capturing the mysterious woman.
Chaining the wild woman up below his house and intending to tame and civilize her, Chris includes his wife and three children in the project and despite some mixed feeling on the matter the family aid Chris even with his less than neighbourly approach to ‘helping’ his prisoner.
The Woman kicks off with a noticeable amount of charm. Slightly off centre choices such as the soundtrack and Sean Bridger's almost fifties father attitude doesn’t seem a natural fit to what appears to be a story of torture and mistreatment of women but somehow all of this elevates The Woman beyond its limited budget and into an arena that deserves to get noticed.
Chris Cleek, this crazy father at the centre of the story is a total and utter douche bag. At first it feels like this story might go down an almost Bigfoot (Harry) and the Hendersons route with this goofily aggressive father learning the error of his ways via the wild woman he found in the woods but it doesn’t take long to work out this isn’t the case. This guy is just plain bad and when we start discovering that his mistreatment of the chained up woman in his cellar isn’t that unlike how he treats his wife, or indeed any women in his life this story gets a whole lot darker.
That said, between author Jack Ketchum and director Lucky McKee there’s a twisted sense of humour here that gives The Woman a real charm. Don’t get me wrong, most of it is very dark humour and shouldn’t be funny but it works. Chris Cleek’s oblivious approach to his dark dealings is delightfully odd, even the abuse of his wife and how random the acts are (slapping her in the face while brushing his teeth as an example) come with a slight offbeat humour all without losing the weight of his darker edge. In many ways his performance reminded me a lot of Will Ferrell but with this backdrop it was hard to find it outright hilarious even though he did raise a few guilty chuckles.
The entire movie is quite grisly but it’s more what you don’t see mixed with a lot of blood and dirt to make what you do see a little gross. The more graphic stuff is left for the finale which takes a while to get to but when it kicks off there’s a good amount of gore, some pretty effective visuals and a nice little curveball of WTF to add the last notch in the ‘Reasons Chris Cleek is obviously insane’ checklist.
For a DVD, the image of this disc is actually quite impressive. There's a very clean digital feeling to the film and even the darkest of scenes still has quite a lot of detail. Skin covered in deep brown mud and blood shows off tiny textures beneath it and give the woman a striking appearance against backdrops and even the brighter breezier suburban settings seem quite colourful and sharp (well as sharp as sharp goes with standard definition anyway).
There are a lot of deep blacks in the heavy shadowed scenes and generally everything is naturally coloured with yellows and reds popping off the screen the most. The Woman is low budget and it never manages to quite hide it but with that said this is a pretty looking transfer.
The strongest element here is the music on the track. The soundtrack is obviously thought about and the placings of the songs are powerful and generate a lot of the personality the film achieves. The music fills the channels and grabs hold of us, probably more than the visuals do and they really come alive here.
Ambience is also very strong with an almost constant sound of crickets and the woods around the family home. On top of that tricks with sound are very effective, the piercing sound that generates from an up close gunshot nearly made my ears bleed at one point and the small things involved in any form of torture carried out on the woman seems ramped up to good effect. Also her screams and growls and anything to do with her restraints are very much there to make the situation more aggressive and work very well.
The making of (23:46) is a great look at the story behind the movie. The writer and director have the lion's share of the screentime and the low budget approach to making the film is covered very well, for example, they used a high school gym as their hollywood soundstage. Also we get plenty from the cast and watching the make up transformation of the woman herself is very cool.
The deleted scenes clock in at five minutes and 'Meet the Makers' (04:23) seems to be a web based special that covers a lot of what's in the making of with a little bit more and mentions The Woman is actually a sequel to The Offspring which I was not aware of.
'Mi Burro - Short Film' (6:43) is a cool little animated short and
'Distracted - Sean Spillane' (5:01) isn't a music video but just the song set to stills from the film.
The Woman treads a fine line between feeling very much like the low budget affair it really is and coming off with enough confidence in its oddness to make Lucky McKee a director to watch out for in the future. Its offbeat sense of humour mixed with its straight to the point horror made this a breath of fresh air in the current ‘too slick for their own good’ horror genre and the disc does a good job of showing off the all the talent involved.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 25th October 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Stereo 2.0 Stereo
Extras: Making of, Meet The makers, Short film, deleted Scenes, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Lucky McKee
Cast: Pollyanna McIntosh, Carlee Baker, Shana Barry, Marcia Bennett
Length: 98 minutes