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Sundance 2011 Review: THE WOMAN was Gleefully Sadistic

Movie Review Sundance by Joey Paur

The Woman left me speechless when I walked out of the theater after seeing it. What in the hell do you say about a movie as sadistically jacked up as this one? I thought I Saw the Devil was a pretty disturbing, demented, and violent film, but The Woman was far worse, and I honestly didn't think it could get any worse. The film was just a terrifyingly hard movie to watch, but I would gladly watch it again because it was so damned entertaining! There was a lot of uncomfortable laughter in the theater, laughter to cover up the uncomfortable feelings the audience had while watching the movie. At least that’s what it sounded like to me, and that’s why I was laughing. I couldn't believe what was happening in this film! It was absolutely terrifying.

The film starts out with a very typical-looking American family at a barbeque. As the story goes on, we realize that this family is jacked up. The father and son in the film are freakin’ insane! The insanity of the story and characters escalates as the film progresses. The father, Chris, goes out hunting one day and finds a wild woman living deep in the woods near his home. So he does what any loving father and husband would do--he captures her, chains her up in his cellar, and brings the family in to help take care of and civilize her. His family has no other option; they have to participate in the madness because the father is a nut case. The father's wife and daughters don’t like the idea, but his teenage son is looking forward to participating in the madness in any way that he can. To give you an example of the insanity of this film, the kid gets caught by his older sister torturing the woman with a pair of pliers while masturbating. Yeah, I told you it was jacked up, and that's nothing compared to what else this movie throws at you. Chris is a very abusive husband and father. He’s a completely abusive control freak and mental case that has no respect for women at all. He puts on a great fake personality though. This behavior escalates dramatically as the movie goes on, and there’s a point where it just blows the hell up. There is a scene where he ends up punching the living hell out of his wife right in front of his kids and knocking her out. Right after this happens, there is a knock at the door, and the father and son emotionlessly pick the wife up off the floor and sit her in a chair to make her look like she’s okay and let a guest into their home as if nothing is wrong. As I look back at this movie, I don’t know how or why, but it was hard not to laugh because of the ultra-insane situations these people found themselves in. As all of this is going on, the wild woman is watching, learning, and waiting for her time to strike back, and holy hell in a hand basket... she strikes back with relentless brute force, and everyone gets what they deserve.

This hardcore sadistic film has so many different layers to it and takes on some pretty heavy themes such as abuse, legacies, and the hardship of being an adolescent. There are several moments where the movie crosses the line, but that’s one of the reasons why it was so fascinating to watch. I’ve never seen a movie cross the line like this one did.

The movie was directed by Lucky McKee (May), and this film definitely celebrates the power of women in the craziest way anyone could ever imagine. Through all of the torture and violent acts portrayed in the film, the woman rises up and gets her revenge in the most horrific, blood-thirsty ways she knows how.

The movie was disturbingly awesome! But even though I liked it, it’s hard to recommend it to people because of how over-the-top it is.  This movie will definitely be offensive to a lot of people, but if you're a little screwed up in the head, then this is a movie I’m sure you will enjoy. So if a studio actually has the guts to pick up and distribute the film and you go out and see it, I hope you like it!

Here’s the official synopsis for the movie:

Good-old-fashioned-horror impresario Lucky McKee (McKee’s May screened at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival) returns to Park City with an outrageously sadistic peek under the surface of family values gone terribly wrong.

When stern patriarch Chris Cleek stumbles upon a wild woman while hunting deep in the woods, he does what he believes is the only logical thing—he stalks, captures, and imprisons the savage in his shed with the intent of civilizing her. Naturally, Cleek wants his whole family to participate in the process; refusal is not an option for his frail wife, reluctant daughters, and all-too-eager son. As his training methods turn increasingly torturous, resistance is met with brute force and animalistic urges, building meticulously to an unrelenting, carnage-filled climax.

Writhing through themes of abuse, legacies, and adolescent pain, McKee’s exercise in cruelty gleefully grinds the classic Pygmalion story into a macabre pulp for all to enjoy.

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