The Woman begins with the appearance of a grubby woman’s midriff onscreen and her stroking her blood-smeared stomach. As the camera zooms out we see she’s been stabbed and is trying to clean the wound.
Portrayed by British actress, Pollyanna McIntosh (Exam, Burke & Hare), her name is unknown and she’s simply referred to here as ‘The Woman’, and she’s the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades.
Lawyer Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) stumbles across her while out hunting in the forest and finds himself endlessly staring at her through his sights. He looks the mild-mannered type, but at his earliest opportunity, he throws a net over her, knocks her out and strings her up in his garage. Despite his initial violent actions, it’s amusing when he then starts poking around in her mouth to check out her teeth at which point she sinks them into his ring finger, bites it off, chews it up then and spits out his wedding ring.
The remainder of his family is made up of Belle (Angela Bettis), his very much put-upon wife, plus their daughter Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter), who is rather a loner, and their son Brian (Zach Rand), who fancies a girl in his class who’s better at shooting hoops than he is, so he gets her back by putting chewing gum on her hairbrush, causing her to rip out some hair in class when trying to use it. What a nice chap(!)
Back to the head of the household, and Chris is clearly a redneck asshole who thinks this woman can be “trained” back to civility and thinks nothing of introducing her to the whole family, including his young children. As the film continues, Peggy becomes an increasingly insular teenager, Brian can clearly only think of their ‘guest’ in a particularly sick and twisted way and Chris’ actions have to be seen to be believed. The final third of the film is outstanding beyond belief.
Without going into detail, since to describe a lot of what makes this film great would spoil the plot, The Woman has a fantastically intriguing premise, with Pollyanna McIntosh putting on a brilliant performance as a nomad being brought back to reality with a crashing bump, and the ‘family’ cast similarly excel in their roles, moreso than you’d think on first seeing them.
This is the kind of movie you’d expect to have come from a foreign director and it getting a US remake a couple of years down the line, rather than it being American-made from the start – having been filmed in Massachusetts, but it easily comes across as compelling viewing from start to finish.
Presented in 16:9 (1.77:1) exactly, so I presume the cinema 1.85:1 ratio would mask the top and bottom slightly – not that it would make any real visual difference, the picture which looks crisp and clear throughout, perfectly bringing to the screen both the dank interiors of the cellar and the lush, green outdoors of the Cleek’s farmland. It’s also brilliantly well-filmed throughout, with tight use of camera shots.
Audio-wise, the film is presented in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio and there’s some exceptional sound effects at the points where the woman eats his finger and later involving a gunshot ringing in someone’s ear. It’s also punctuated by some fantastic songs which just pump out of the speakers from scratch and without warning, resulting in a scene that looks more like a bizarre music videos, one of them featuring degrading scenes with the woman.
The extras are as follows:
- The Making of The Woman (24:48): This featurette includes a look at the locations, such as the fact a high school baseball court doubled for the cellar – would you believe, Pollyanna’s extensive make-up and also the detailed gore during the film.
Chat comes from all the key cast members, plus director Lucky McKee, production designer Krista Call, director of photography Alex Vendler, composer Sean Spillane as well as many other crew members.
- Deleted Scenes (5:14): There are 3 deleted and extended scenes here, but nothing that demands to be put back in the film.
- Meet the Makers (4:24): A very brief featurette for a movie programme called Chiller. Not half as insightful as the ‘making of’. This is for those with short attention spans who don’t want to watch that full segment.
- Mi Burro – Short film (7:02): A bizarre animation about a Spanish lad and his selfish, womanising horse, the pair of them being cigar smokers.
- Film4 Frightfest Total Film Panel Discussion (42:56): Jamie Graham, deputy editor of Total Film, talks to Lucky McKee and a number of others at the Film4 Frightfest in August this year.
- ‘Distracted’ by Sean Spillane (5:01): The song used during a particularly vile scene in the movie.
The menu mixes the static front cover with some subtle animation of clouds passing with a short piece of the closing music from the film playing over and over. There are no subtitles which is inexcusable, especially since the dialogue isn’t always clear. The chaptering is equally lacking with just 12 over the 103-minute running time.
Running time: 103 minutes
Distributor: Revolver Entertainment
Cat no: REVD2854
Date of release: October 17th 2011
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
Widescreen: 1.78:1 (16:9)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Lucky McKee
Producers: Robert Tonino and Andrew van den Houten
Screenplay: Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee
Music: Sean Spillane
The Woman: Pollyanna McIntosh
Chris Cleek: Sean Bridgers
Belle Cleek: Angela Bettis
Peggy Cleek: Lauren Ashley Carter
Brian Cleek: Zach Rand
Deana: Marcia Bennett
Roger: Chris Krzykowski
Darlin’ Cleek: Shyla Molhusen
Genevieve Raton: Carlee Baker
Socket: Alexa Marcigliano
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.