Review: ‘The Woman’

·Editor

1. Let's say I walked over to you right now and punched you in the face. (This is unlikely: I don't even know who you are, let alone where you are or how to get to you.) There's a friend standing next to you, but that friend is unable to help, unable to do anything other than stand there and watch. I then continued punching you in the face for about 90 minutes. Just relentless: Constant face-punches for an hour and a half. At the end of that 90 minutes, you hit me back, harder than I hit you, but for a lesser amount of time, like 10 minutes or so. Who do you think your friend is going think won the fight? Is he/she going to note that your punches were more powerful and that they came last? Or is he/she just going to remember that 90 minutes span when I wouldn't stop smacking you? Because I hit you for 90 minutes. Ninety long minutes.

2. "The Woman" seems to believe it is some sort of feminist parable, though I can't figure out what in the world it's supposed to be saying, why it's trying to say it, or what it's even trying to do. Because -- and let's be straight here -- this movie is basically 90 minutes of several women being tortured followed by 10 minutes of "revenge." I know that this is in the grand tradition of horror pulp pretending to be about some sort of Larger Point while making sure that we see every splat and crunch, but that doesn't change the fact that it's vile. And you know what? Those films sucked too.

3. Actually, obsessing over the repulsion of watching "The Woman" plays right into writer/director Lucky McKee's hands -- you just can't handle it, man -- so let's start with the basics: The movie is incompetently written, shot, acted and (especially) scored. (The soundtrack for this film sounds like randomly flipping from one struggling band's MySpace page to another; I'm pretty sure half the songs, always set inappropriately to some torture montage, were written by Visiting Day, the band Adriana was trying to sign on "The Sopranos.") I will hand it to McKee: He is obsessed with his own ability to direct a movie, which is half the battle, really. But boy, does he ever lose the other half. Scenes just sort of sputter along, poorly lit and clumsy, and actors appear to have been chosen by how close they happened to be standing to McKee at that particular moment. Seriously, though: There are light-rock-scored torture montages, and they're not even meant ironically. What is this mess?

4. There's a plot, I guess, that maybe has something to do with misogyny being the secret underbelly of all social interactions? A father (played by Sean Bridgers, the only actor to escape dignity intact) is brutal to his wife and daughter but teaches his teenage son to be an awful rapist like him. I think it was something like that? On a hunting expedition, he discovers a feral woman in the woods -- there are many of these feral women to be found in the wilderness surrounding American suburbia; it's OK to hunt them because of, you know, overpopulation -- kidnaps her and takes her home to "civilize" her. This is apparently meant to be some sort of statement on men's fear of women's sexuality? Maybe? That's a point McKee could maybe make if he didn't spend the next 80 minutes torturing her, the camera incompetently attempting to capture every smack and slice. Meanwhile, the father's wife and daughter walk around lost and broken, as one might, were one to have a psychotic rapist feral-woman-kidnapping fellow as the family patriarch.

5. I honestly have no idea what McKee is trying to do here. Any notions of up-with-women power is destroyed by the brutal first 90 minutes of the film, and even if it weren't, the captive-woman-with-no-eyes-or-tongue-on-all-fours-growling-and-biting climax would take care of that. (I think I even understated it there.) Is he trying to make some sort of comment on the housing crisis or the country by making the father work as an estate lawyer and talk like George W. Bush? Seriously, why is there a feral woman roaming around public parks? What in the world is going on? These are questions I might have some interest in if "The Woman" gave me even a second's thought that it had considered answers to these questions, or even cared. I wish this movie were as offensive as it wants to be: that revulsion would have given me something to do during this movie other than watch it.

Grade: D-