Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin is back with yet another awesome horror movie review! This time, he’s tackling BD Selects‘ film The Woman, which hits limited theaters today. Having met and chatted horror with Shannon, I know for a fact that this man’s goal with these reviews is to share his honest opinion, not skewing it or swaying it for anyone or anything. So, keep that in mind when checking out his review, conveniently located after the jump (how about that!).
Directed by Lucky McKee and based on a novel he co-wrote with Jack Ketchum, The Woman follows the story of a man who will stop at nothing to protect his family from a feral woman living in the nearby woods.
Hell-O again horror freaks. I won’t beat around the bush here: this movie rocks! Great screenplay, acting, and direction in an unforgettable film that is sure to satisfy everyone into horror.
Written by Jack Ketchum together with director Lucky McKee, it is a match made in hell for genre fans. One of the sickest minds in thriller fiction, Mr. Ketchum gave us such gems as “The Girl Next Door”, “Red”, and “The Offspring”, to name just a few. His co-writer Mr. McKee directed “The Woods” back in 1986, which is a mostly unheard of film that I recently got turned on to (a very creepy evil witch story), and my favorite film by him “Sick Girl” which was part of the excellent Masters Of Horror series. All of his films have a cool feel to them that makes you let your guard down before squirming under your skin, and then ripping it off.
“The Woman” starts dark as we see our title character (the absolutely stunning Pollyanna McIntosh) in the wild, literally. We see she lives like an animal in the woods, like she comes from a time before civilization. Next we meet the Cleeks, our typical American family: Chris and Belle, and their three children Peg, Brian, and Darlin’. We are at a backyard bar-b-q and everything looks normal, but something feels a little off here. Nothing too obvious, but a creepiness seeps in right away that I give credit to the great acting for making the viewer feel uncomfortable among the sunshine and smiles. And for good reason…
Before the sun comes up the next morning, we see Chris awake and getting his hunting gear together. We then follow him for a while on his hunt in the woods until eventually he spots the Woman through his guns’ scope, bathing in the creek. Naked. He smiles.
Unseen, he follows her to her dwelling in the woods (a wolf den), then goes home and gets busy making room for a new addition to the family. Shortly after, he finds the Woman and captures her, chaining her up in a cellar in a barn off the house. He then brings his whole family to see her and explains that they will “help” her become civilized. His wife looks mortified but doesn’t say anything, and the older daughter Peg also keeps her mouth shut (and we find out why in short order). The youngest daughter, Darlin’, is only six or so and asks a few innocent questions, obviously not understanding the levity of the situation. The son, Brian, seems pretty innocent too, but casts a nasty look towards the Woman on his way out, making you wonder about him. Again it begs mention the subtle prowess of McKee’s direction that keeps the evil under wraps yet gives slight clues that make you think all is not well here. The film’s musical score is also cool and hits all the right notes (excuse the pun), both rocking and modern, with fatalistic passages that seem to be written to provide empathy or exclamation marks on cue.
Yes readers, this is a rave review. This film rings of classic horror that feels timeless to this reviewer and I sincerely hope it is recognized by the masses. On that note, I will not spoil it here by revealing deeper plot lines, of which there are many involving the family that all lead up to the climax. I will say there is plenty blood, abuse, rape, incest, mental and physical torture, WTF moments (the dogs!), and bursts of cringe inducing gore. Lets just say some bone crunching moments will bring a smile to a cannibal’s face. Even the nudity is uncommon; it is presented in a way that isn’t typical, but very satisfying and relevant to the effectiveness and realness the film brings to this outlandish premise of a story. The twists and subplots are sick and very twisted, and take their time in unraveling and ultimately unmasking the true madness that lies at the heart of the film.
I would have expected no less from the minds of Ketchum and McKee, and I breathed a sigh of relief at the awesome ending. For I was not let down in any way by the film adaptation of the book, knowing how hard it is to put so eloquently to celluloid the primal feeling of the characters and vibe of the story as expressed by words on paper. Many a film has failed miserably in this aspect (think some of the King or Barker adaptations that were good films, but not even close to the greatness of the books). This movie does not suffer that fate.
Ghouls and germs, do yourselves a favor and see this film. Help to spread the word, as this is righteous, original, surprising, and at times brutal. Having screened this at home, I truly hope this is coming to a big screen near me, as I will be first in line to experience this spectacle in the ceremonious modern temple of my favorite movie theatre, loud and larger than life on the silver screen.
5 stars out of 5. I loved this and look forward to yearly viewings and discussing with my fellow horror friends.