The Woman (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/09/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Smartly directed and featuring an impressively committed performance from British actress Pollyanna McIntosh, this is a disturbing, lurid horror with some strong violence and a relentlessly dark tone that may prove too much for some.

What's it all about?
Directed by Lucky McKee, The Woman is based on a novel McKee co-wrote with Jack Ketchum, in which a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) living in the woods is captured by lawyer Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) and brought back to his family home. Intending to civilise her, Chris chains her up in the basement and makes her his family project, with his wife Belle (Angela Bettis) and three children – teens Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter) and Brian (Zach Rand) and younger Darlin' (Shyla Molhusen) – all cast as seemingly reluctant accomplices.

However, the presence of the woman in their basement begins to create family tensions and soon Brian is acting up in increasingly disturbing ways.

The Good
British actress Pollyanna McIntosh delivers an impressively committed performance as the woman, creating her own language of snarls and yelps (at least according to the Q&A she gave after the FrightFest screening) and ultimately emerging as the most sympathetic character in the film. Similarly, Bridgers is excellent as the apparently respectable family man whose vicious misogyny is gradually filtering through to his son, while there's strong support from Rand and Carter.

It's worth pointing out that McKee stops short of full-on exploitation, with all the sexualised violence taking place off-screen, though there is still no shortage of horrific moments, especially when things start getting gory. There are also some memorably striking images, such as a bizarre how-did-they-do-that shot of a baby being looked after by a wolf.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the unrelenting bleakness and violent misogyny may prove too much for some, as the audience is deprived of the traditional sympathetic figure to root for. It's also fair to say that the film drags considerably in the middle section, though it picks up for a suitably gore-soaked last act; the final shot is particularly good.

Worth seeing?
While it won't be to everyone's tastes, The Woman is a decently directed, distinctly disturbing domestic horror with a terrific central performance from Pollyanna McIntosh.

Film Trailer

The Woman (18)
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Content updated: 17/12/2017 12:06

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