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 Lucky McKee's THE WOMAN
Ian McDowell
Posted: Feb 27 2012, 12:51 AM


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Anybody else seen this? I'd somehow missed the Sundance controversy and, in so far as I was aware of the film at all, had conflated it with DEAD GIRL (to which it apparently has some thematic resemblance). But Outlaw Vern's review inspired me to seek it out On Demand. For some reason, Time-Warner Cable has it under "World" in the "International" tab of Movies on Demand.

I wasn't as bowled over by it as Vern was, but the film kept my interest, and I do think Polly McIntosh gives one of the great horror movie performances of recent years as the title character. She's both terrifying and sympathetic, although I suppose one might find her less of the later if one has seen OFFSPRING, to which this is something of a sequel (although not billed as such). I've not seen OFFSPRING nor read the novel its based on, but I do know it's one of Jack Ketchum's books about a family or tribe of cave-dwelling Sawney Bean style cannibals in modern New England, that began with his infamous OFF-SEASON. I suspect that Ketchum's fans are perplexed that his best-known novel hasn't been adapted for film but one of its sequels has, and now a semi-sequel has been made to that.

The critics who've seen THE WOMAN but not OFFSPRING refer to McIntosh's character as a mysterious "feral" woman who is captured and then abused by the father of a "normal" family who are actually a lot less normal than they first appear. Nothing in THE WOMAN itself indicates her origin or tells you that she comes from a tribe of inbred cannibals, although the fact that she's wearing crude clothing and has a knife and seems to be speaking some sort of gutteral language when she's not growling and hissing should make it clear that she's more than the "wolf girl" she appears to be, even before she takes a particularly violent revenge on her abusers. The new film is credited as being based on a novel by Ketchum and McKee, but my understanding is that McKee saw OFFSPRING and was really taken with both her character and the actress playing her, and drafted Ketchum's assistance in coming up with a new story about her.

Is this the first time a movie that's essentially a sequel to an earlier one created so much stand-alone buzz? I guess EVIL DEAD 2 comes to mind, or maybe ARMY OF DARKNESS is a better example (since it's doesn't have 2 or even EVIL DEAD in the title). Or maybe SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is a better comparison.
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Doug Dillaman
Posted: Feb 27 2012, 06:05 AM


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I was so annoyed by the film that I walked out, which I almost never do. The tone was so all over the place, the music choices were so terrible, and it seemed like it was just an excuse for SHOCKING! things to happen. Which - if there's a strong enough aesthetic, I'll hang out for. (I loved COLD FISH at the same festival.) But here? No. And I was angry I'd skipped A SEPARATION for it.

Later, I found out my comments were passed onto the distributor, who suggested that maybe I'd prefer to see THE FAIRY. Which tells me everything I need to know - if the distributor itself believes that anybody who doesn't like the film is, implicitly, "a fairy", then it's not about any cinematic quality, but some machismo bullshit about what you can sit through.

That said, a lot of reasonable people seem to be giving this a pass, so go figure. Maybe I'd gel with it better on a second view.
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Ian McDowell
Posted: Feb 27 2012, 08:49 AM


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I didn't like the music choices, either, but otherwise generally liked the film better than you did, and in particular thought Pollyana McIntosh was terrific, giving my favorite horror film performance in years (possibly in decades). Not sure that the revelation about "the dogs" works, although it does given the Woman a nice character bit when she whacks somebody with a board in a non-fatal way. I'm now curious about OFFSPRING, which I've not heard particularly good things about.

The distributor sounds like a douche, but that's not the movie's fault. I mean, Harvey Weinstein's pretty clearly an asshole, but amongst all the Oscar bait he sometimes releases good movies (even while chopping up the foreign ones).

I thought I'd posted this on the SF/Horror board. Can somebody move it?
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Marc McCloud
Posted: Feb 27 2012, 10:26 AM


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I liked it, and I haven't seen a film stir up such a discussion since DOGTOOTH.

I had minor quibbles. The music HALF worked for me, good in some spots and annoying in others. Also, wouldn't a feral woman have more body hair?
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Ian McDowell
Posted: Feb 27 2012, 10:58 AM


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Marc, Pollyana McIntosh, who seems like a really cool person, answered that question herself in her comments on this blog..

She apparently grew out her armpit hair for months in preparation for the role and had to cover it up during photoshoots (she's also a model), but like her leg hair and the actual scrapes and bruises she acquired on the shoot, it doesn't really read through the heavy grime and other makeup. She also cut her bangs herself with the character's knife, figuring the Woman would want to keep her hair out of her eyes, and in retrospect regrets doing too good a job of it.

Technically, I guess she's not a "feral woman" in the sense of Mowgli or Truffaut's Wild Child. As OFFSPRING makes clear, she actually belonged to a human society, which is presumably why she's speaking some kind of archaic sounding gutteral language at the end. It's just that the society consisted of Sawney Bean style cave-dwelling cannibals!

This actually is a sequel to OFFSPRING, and not just a movie inspired by her character in it (the way, that say, LEON was inspired by Reno's more vicious character in LA FEMME NIKITA). At the beginning of THE WOMAN, she's sporting the wound she received in OFFSPRING and mourning the deaths of her children from that film. That's apparently actually a dream sequence, with the wolf and the baby (that is to say, in the film's "reality," she kills the wolf and takes its den, but in her dream, she gets the wolf to adopt her dead baby).
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Doug Dillaman
Posted: Feb 27 2012, 05:13 PM


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QUOTE (Ian McDowell @ Feb 27 2012, 08:49 AM)
The distributor sounds like a douche, but that's not the movie's fault.

Fair enough, and I didn't initially judge the movie on it - I was just hoping post-movie that maybe I'd see or hear something that would convince me to give it another chance, or explain that I was missing something, and that reaction did the exact opposite.

And credit where credit is due: McIntosh's performance (what I saw of it, anyway) was committed. Everybody else seemed lost i/r/t the tone of their performances - it was hard for me to gauge if they were "bad" performances or just misjudged.
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Ian McDowell
Posted: Feb 27 2012, 06:22 PM


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The "sexy teacher" who tries to be helpful gave the only performance I considered to be bad. I wasn't as impressed by Sean Bridgers' work as the father as a lot of critics and bloggers seem to have been, but I thought he was fine (and very different from his role as Johnny Burns on DEADWOOD). I've never been that big a fan of Angela Bettis, but I liked her work towards the end of the film, particularly when she explodes with rage at Bridgers. I thought the son was decent, too, although I would have preferred a performance that pitched him as even MORE hateful, or better yet, that attempted to make him as sympathetic as possible while doing really vile things.

I looked up the credits, I never caught that the oldest sister was named "Socket" and had to look up anophthalmia to understand why the father and son kept repeating that word as a kind of family in-joke. I'm ambivalent about the entire character and whether or not the film needs its Shocking Reveal, although I do like the casual way the Woman immediately establishes an Alpha relationship with her.

This post has been edited by Ian McDowell on Feb 27 2012, 06:23 PM
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Ian McDowell
Posted: Feb 27 2012, 06:27 PM


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So, has anyone seen OFFSPRING? That 2009 film doesn't seem to have made nearly as much of a splash as its sequel has, although McIntosh's performance as The Woman in it was apparently what made McKee and Ketchum want to make this one. A couple of stills that I've seen show the cannibal kids in rather risible looking fright wigs (I gather that film is about tourists and other characters being menaced by the Woman's flesh-eating brood -- again, I find it odd that a sequel to Ketchum's infamous OFF SEASON was adapted to film and yet the original novel hasn't been).
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Domenick Fraumeni
Posted: Feb 28 2012, 12:06 PM


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Eric Red announced his intention to direct OFF SEASON back in 2008, but nothing seems to have come from it.
I haven't seen OFFSPRING, but plan on seeing it with THE WOMAN sometime in the next week. Both have been well received, from what I've read.
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Vincent Pereira
Posted: Mar 15 2012, 10:37 PM


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I haven't seen THE WOMAN yet but OFFSPRING is pretty lousy.

Vincent
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Adam Tyner
Posted: Mar 16 2012, 07:55 AM


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QUOTE (Vincent Pereira @ Mar 16 2012, 12:37 AM)
I haven't seen THE WOMAN yet but OFFSPRING is pretty lousy.
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Ian McDowell
Posted: Mar 17 2012, 09:51 AM


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Just the various stills I've seen have been enough to put me off OFFSPRING. Those cannibal kids look damn silly. Dimestore HILLS HAVE EYES seems about right.
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Vincent Pereira
Posted: Mar 17 2012, 11:48 PM


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I've now seen THE WOMAN and it's really, really good IMO. Certainly miles better than the film that inspired it, to say the least. The music choices were certainly... interesting, and I can understand why some folks didn't like them, but they worked for me.

Now, if only somebody can explain what's going on with the coda after the credits...

Vincent

This post has been edited by Vincent Pereira on Mar 17 2012, 11:49 PM
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