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Quint thinks Lucky McKee's THE WOMAN is bizarre, crazy, offensive and incredibly well made! Sundance 2011!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. There’s not been a whole lot of worthy genre at the fest this year. So far we’ve gotten the underwhelming Kevin Smith flick, Red State… which isn’t even really a horror movie… and the utter failure experimental remake (is there even such a thing or is that a contradiction in terms?) Silent House.

Sure, we have good stuff like The Troll Hunter, I Saw The Devil and Hobo With A Shotgun, but I saw the first two already at Fantastic Fest last year, so it really just feels like a void of good genre at Sundance this year.

That is until I saw Lucky McKee’s newest film, THE WOMAN, tonight.

Let us get a few things out of the way up front, shall we? Like most who were able to see it, I loved McKee’s May. I followed the troubled release of his follow-up, The Woods, but never got a chance to see it until I picked it up used. I can’t say I loved the film, a twisted nod to Argento’s Suspiria, but I didn’t hate it.

What I have really disliked are other Jack Ketchum adaptations. The Lost, Red, The Girl Next Door (not the one starring Juno, the other one) all failed to impress me much at all. They felt gritty and awful without any real purpose other than to be gritty and awful.

So you can imagine my mindset going into The Woman tonight. I was pulling for Lucky, but don’t have a good track record with the source of the material. And I’m running off of four consecutive days of 4 hours or less of sleep and The Woman was my 10:30pm movie, also my fourth film of the day.

So when I say that The Woman is fantastic, a wonderfully bizarre tale of what could be in the top 10 most fucked up families ever portrayed in film I want you guys to know that the circumstances of my press screening could have just as easily swayed me over to “fuck this, I’m gonna go home and get some goddamn sleep!” if the movie didn’t work.

Granted, I could be a little delirious at this point, but I’ve checked with other sources and I didn’t imagine the fucked up shit I saw in this movie.

For those that have been following my Sundance coverage you’ll remember that one of my main complaints with Red State was that Kevin Smith seems to have chickened out on a totally bizarre ending (something confirmed during the Q&A today, I’m told… his original draft of the script went exactly where everybody I have talked to wanted to see it go). Hate this movie (and some do) if you will, but no one will ever accuse Lucky McKee of wussing out on the ending.

The biggest happy surprise of the film to me is that it’s not a torture flick, even if it appears to be on the surface. It’s more an examination of an insanely dysfunctional family run by the charming, but sadistic patriarch, played by Sean Bridgers. At first you think he’s just a wife-beater, but as the movie goes on you realize just how demented he is and how he is enabled by his meek wife (McKee regular Angela Bettis) and withdrawn daughter (Lauren Ashley Carter).

The Woman of the title is Pollyanna McIntosh, a feral lady that apparently lives and hunts in the woods on the property of this demented little family. I swear to God, they give her a Mowgli origin, seen in flashes at the very beginning as this filthy creature stalks a wounded predator through the woods. We see a baby being sniffed at and licked by wolves.

 

 

One day Bridgers’ Chris Cleek goes out hunting and spots The Woman bathing. He watches her and tracks her back to her cave. With a smile on his face, he returns home, demands his wife and children clean up a storage space/storm shelter and promises them a big surprise.

Of course, that big surprise is the wild child, who he captures, brings back, ties up and shows off like he caught a massive fish. Chris Cleek has it in his mind that he and his family will cure her, but it’s clear his intensions are anything but pure, especially as we gradually see more and more of the abuse he levels at the women in his family.

Bettis is great as the abused wife who has an anger boiling just below the surface that she’s terrified to release… in a way, The Woman is a representation of that anger, a purely violent and reactive animal… the abuser, not the abused. Lauren Ashley Carter as the teenage daughter is the most human character in the story. She hates her family life, but is tied to the family by more than just fear.

 

 

If this story was just about the revenge women get to exact on a horrible abusing bastard of a man I don’t think I’d like this flick so much, but there’s a B storyline that takes a step over the fucked up line.

Young Zach Rand plays the 12-ish year old son, Brian, who is learning way too much from his father. His mother and sister do their best to try to keep him from becoming his father, but it’s quickly evident that they’re not doing a good job at that.

 

 

This kid takes larger and larger steps towards being his father until a particularly nasty bit of a business that goes down when he thinks he’s home alone with The Woman. I can’t believe this kid’s parents let him do this, but I’m happy they did. It’s something you never see in a genre movie and acts as a warning to how easily kids can pick up the bad traits of their parents.

McIntosh plays the woman as an animal, grunting a language that feels legit even though it’s little more than a combination of growls and wild sounds. It’s a brave performance and she pulls it off.

There has been a lot of talk about this movie since very offended audience members made a stink at the premiere last night. They’re not wrong, in a way. This is a very offensive movie, but the fact is they’re not seeing the forest for the trees. This isn’t at all empowering abusers, nor is it a soulless revenge fantasy. If they look beneath the surface they’d see The Woman is all about abused women denying the power her abuser holds over them.

It’s a very positive message hidden under a very brutal and fucked up movie.

And a well-made movie, too. McKee uses music fantastically, he pulls great performances out of his actors (young and old) and makes a very pretty movie out of some very ugly situations.

And that ending! What an ending! Totally weird, totally earned and it left me leaving the theater with a big grin on my face.

This is a hard movie to recommend, especially to strangers, so I won’t tell you which way to look at it, but all I can say is that I thought it was a very strong film and a very entertaining film.

 

 

If you want an up to the minute account of what I’m seeing and my immediate verdict on Sundance flicks as I see them be sure to follow me on Twitter!

-Quint
quint@aintitcool.com
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Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:04 a.m. CST

    This sounds like it has great potential!

    by Aaronthenia

    Hope it gets some kind of U.S release. Sounds good.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:06 a.m. CST

    FIRST!!!!! Also, I hate Lucky Mckee

    by ryan thomas

    She made that horrible show FIREFLY which is so dumb like its fans.. And her last movie, scott pilgrim was the dumbest thing evar

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:32 a.m. CST

    Brutal and fucked up?

    by MotherPussBucket

    As in Martyrs/Irreversible/A Serbian Film/Dead Man's Shoes/etc? Is extreme cinema starting to break through in the US? On second thoughts, if you left the cinema with a big grin on your face, probably not.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:51 a.m. CST

    Ghostbusters

    by MotherPussBucket

    getting there?

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6 a.m. CST

    ViggyViggyViggy

    by MotherPussBucket

    you got it. Right on with those other movies you mentioned too. The only one I haven't experienced (I think that's the appropriate verb) is Salo. I'll check it out. Cheers.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6:22 a.m. CST

    Apparently this is the final book...

    by BangoSkank

    ...in the Off Season/Offspring cannibal trilogy, though the book itself doesn't release until April.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6:30 a.m. CST

    "Not the one staring Juno, the other one"

    by BangoSkank

    But the one staring Juno, is the Ketchum film. I thought it was a pretty strong flick, actually. The best adaptation of Ketchum's work to date, but that's not saying too much. I liked "Red", but thought "The Lost" and "Offspring" were pretty disappointing. The watered-down-to-Lifetime-movie movies have been okay, but the real horror flicks have been sadly lacking, here's hoping that this movie changes that.

  • What about 'Offspring', which 'The Woman' is a sequel to? I liked those Ketchum adaptations you list, especially 'The Lost', but 'Offspring' was a piece of shit.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6:33 a.m. CST

    "But the one staring Juno, is the Ketchum film."

    by buggerbugger

    No it isn't. 'The Girl Next Door' is the Ketchum adaptation, not the Paige-starring 'American Crime' you're talking about.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6:57 a.m. CST

    Thanks Scratchmonkey

    by BangoSkank

    You're right, of course...

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Quint - Tell us about the Red State original ending.

    by V'Shael

    Was this going show the fundamentalists actually going to hell or something? Alannis Morrisette cameo'ing as god? What??

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Ketchum is a terrific horror writer...

    by Mono

    And to be fair, Quint, when you say you have a problem with the source material, you are not being truthful. You've probably never read a book in your life. Your problem is not with the source material, your problem is with the bad movies that people have made using the source material. This is nothing new. It often takes filmmakers a while to figure out how to adapt interesting writers of dark material. There are a lot of bad Jim Thompson movies, a lot of bad Stephen King movies, some bad Dean Koontz movies, etc. I just wanted to get that out of the way. Having said that, let me also say this: This sounds great. I'm intrigued. I liked May an awful lot, and a marriage of Lucky McKee and Ketchum sounds good. He seems like exactly the right filmmaker for this material. I'm looking forward to this. Horror literature is in the midst of a very interesting kind of new wave right now. (Well, I'm calling the past 20 years "right now.") Crack a fucking book, all of you.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 8:44 a.m. CST

    video of guy freaking out at the screening

    by Cyan09

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3lUAZLB4JY

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:58 a.m. CST

    This guy disagrees with you

    by schadenfreudian

    http://www.youtube .com/watch?v=o3lUAZLB 4JY&feature=youtu.be

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:59 a.m. CST

    That guy's reaction makes me wanna see this more

    by schadenfreudian

    Unless it's a publicity stunt, in which case, I still wanna see this.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 12:03 p.m. CST

    Sorry, Cyan...

    by schadenfreudian

    Your post wasn't showing up on my screen when i submitted mine. rescinded!

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Is this a remake of La Mujer?

    by cookylamoo

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 2:16 p.m. CST

    Very interested.

    by blackwood

    I don't know from Ketchum, at all, but I am a fan of Lucky McKee. MAY was brilliant and THE WOODS was solid. Now, to a wiki so I can feel embarrassed about my scope.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 2:25 p.m. CST

    Quint the apologist.

    by PorkChopXpress

    This movie IS bullshit and you're just making excuses for it. We are getting more and more desensitized to this stuff, it seems like we just keep drifting toward an "anything is okay" sensibility in film, with people WANTING shit to go too far...and that's really a disturbing commentary about where we're at, as a society.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Speaking of which...

    by PorkChopXpress

    ...one need look no further than the current Harry animation at the top of the main page, for an example. I'm sure Harry thinks this is hilarious, but it's not. It's vulgar.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 4:05 p.m. CST

    i cant wait for the Snuff movie genre to become

    by KilliK

    legal and mainstream accessible. with all these fake comedies appearing in the dozens for the last past years,its a matter of time until the snuff entertainment movement leave its underground hidings and become the real deal for the masses to enjoy. we have reality shows,why not reality movies where people are raped and killed for real.BRING IT ON I SAY.

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 4:56 p.m. CST

    Could They Pick a More "Generic" Title?

    by sideshowrob

    How 'bout "Wild"? Or "Dirty Feral Bitch"? "Gacking With Wolves"? "True Grit?"...

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:18 p.m. CST

    Talked me out of Red State

    by Veraxus

    It's a fucking shame to hear from so many sources that he totally fucked up on the ending. *sigh*

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Good ol' Moriarty had words with the upset dude at the screening

    by barry convex

    Drew Mcweeny was sitting right behind the guy who caused a scene. Read all about it: http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/motion-captured/posts/sundance-review-lucky-mckees-the-woman-outrages-and-offends-with-surgical-skill-at-midnight

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6:08 p.m. CST

    Pollyanna McIntosh IS QUINT'S NEXT DATE.

    by JonChambers

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 6:54 p.m. CST

    looks to be a good spot here

    by frank cotton

    and we're back with the allnight show, here on 6.6.6 on your XM dial, and this is your gracious host, frank cotton. the last few songs you heard were, WASTED, and FADE INTO YOU, both from SO TONIGHT THAT I MIGHT SEE, capped off with TAKE EVERYTHING off (ha ha ha ) of AMONG MY SWAN, all by MAZZY STAR, and if you haven't guessed by now, we really love HOPE SANDOVAL here at the station. when we decide to chill, we don't waste our time on 'britney' and her clones, HELL NO! we like women with something to say, and with voices that will actually wring the blood out of your heart! if i EVER see one of those teeny-bopper's CDs within a mile of this place, i will cave someone's head in. anyones. really, i hate that pseudo-disco hippity-hoppity crap. it's like someone draggin' a dumpster across a parking lot; it just grates on my nerve. the last one. and so, mornin', kids! we havin' a good time tonight? ya know, frank realizes that the show last night, and those special reports were a bit of a downer. true, what needed to be said was said, and the show's finally on the road, so to speak, but yeah, that was some depressing shit. so tonight we're going to liven things up a tad, and hopefully get back to some real heavy sounds. that slow stuff is alright for slow dancin' and making out, but too much of it will put you to sleep! hey, let's get goin'! the word of the day is INSANITY, and we'll be having plenty of that tonight! and here in the UNDERVERSE, we like our hi-tech toys, and that brings us to this morning's PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS. frank likes DELL computers - he's had two of their desktops, and is typing this out on one of their laptops. she's a killer machine. we also like SAITEK products, such as their ILLUMINATED KEYBOARDS (don't tell, but i'm getting one of those TRON boards as soon as the lawsuits are settled), and their JOYSTICK/THROTTLE CONTROLS. and that's a wrap. on to the show. the next songs you'll be hearing are BARELY LEGAL, LAST NIGHT, and HARD TO EXPLAIN by THE STROKES, from the album THIS IS IT. we'll be easing our way back into the metal, rather than taking the immediate, jarring route. but first, we have a message from that annoying EMERGENCY BROADCAST bullshit. sorry, but i don't make the rules, that's the FCC's purview. we'll skip the sirens and all that. so, stay tuned for a public service anouncement: hi, this is frank cotton speaking, uncle frank to those of you in the know. anyone ever see a little movie called HELLRAISER? nevermind. this message is for all the girls out there, so all you dudes can just go back to your game, or your current project, or jerking off, or whatever the hell it is you were doing, ok? fine. now, ladies, with those assholes out of the way, what say we take over the world? about time, don't you think? they've been fucking it up long enough, so let's have some REAL change, for a change. but, before we get started, how about a little music to set the mood? we'll start with WALK AWAY, by FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH (sounds cool, but is way too long), from the album WAR IS THE ANSWER (see how this all goes together...), followed by CANDY'S ROOM (where i'd like to be) by BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (and the e street band) off DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, and EARTH vs ME by POWERMAN 5000 (this band features ROB ZOMBIE's brother, eh) from MEGA KUNG-FU RADIO. a quick aside here, what's with these stupid fucking names for albums, and bands, and shit? it takes forever to type! anyways, frank's got notes all over the place here, but he's just going to wing it tonight. there's a line from MAGNUM FORCE, and it goes something like, ALL OF OUR HEROES ARE DEAD. feels that way sometimes, don't it? it's true, in a way, but it's also false, 'cause i'm here. your new hero, frank cotton. there's three of us actually, there's me here, there's me at SUICIDEGIRLS.COM, and there's one more of me at OBSSESSEDARTIST.COM. anyone here see MULTIPLICITY? don't have to raise your hands, i can see some of you nodding. there's just too much for one person to do by himself. so, here and/or there we are, for you. the girls. my girls. i'll tell you all a secret, a big one, in fact. the world wasn't created for you, it was created for me. why? because! god, i hate talking about this, it is so embarassing. so i can get laid! that's it, all nice and tidy, and now that it's out in the open, let me explain myself. god ain't cute. he's not gonna tell you what he looks like, 'cause he's not up for being mobbed. he's not too good with crowds. he used to be shy, but that's finally, finally, over with. so what happened to frank? well, when he was around thirteen years old, rumor had it that frank was gay (even tho he didn't even know what the fuck that meant at the time), and all the girls quit talking to him. this was back when being queer was a big deal, and in addition to the aforementioned problem, frank was kind of an oddball to start with. he didn't like sports, he liked art. pretty things, beautiful things, like all of you pretty girls out there. nothing wrong with liking girls, but if you don't like sports, too, you might as well have FAGGOT stamped on your forehead. and it was all downhill from there. girls, i hate to do it, but can we call a break, please? i need a smoke, something to drink, and i don't know but i might oughta need to go out back right quick and jerk off, because all this talk about girls, and those pictures from the website and all are distracting the shit out of me. sorry to be so forward about it, but i want you to know the truth, just exactly what is going on at all times, and i want you to be able to trust me. i won't ask you to have faith, or blindly follow orders, just please, please, trust me. and we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor...

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 11:24 p.m. CST

    Hmmmmm...

    by maxjohnson1971

    McKee and Ketchum may be the new Darabont and King. Loved May a lot and Ketchum kicks major ass. I'm stoked about this. And I liked The Girl Next Door. Not as tough to get through as the book, but still pretty damn brutal, especially considering it is all true.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 3:39 a.m. CST

    May was fantastic

    by Smack_Teddy

    so thats all i need to know before watching this, i don't won't to read anything here for fear of spoliers! Knew nothing about May apart from it being about a more than slightly unhinged person

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 8:27 a.m. CST

    I say "motherpussbucket" all the time

    by D.Vader

    And I think Quint meant the girl from 24, not Juno in "The Girl Next Door", right?

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 12:31 p.m. CST

    No, he got it right....

    by BangoSkank

    The Girl Next Door and American Crime are based on the same true-life crime story... He's saying it's not the movie with Juno in it, but the other one. I got the two mixed up myself, or maybe just blured them together into one movie.

  • Jan. 26, 2011, 6:41 p.m. CST

    Motherpussbucket

    by maxjohnson1971

    If you haven't seen Salo, be warned. It is NOT an easy movie to watch at points. Is it good? Eh, I can't say it's bad, but I won't say I get a hankerin' to check it out too often either. I think by now, it has a reputation that outlives the reality of the movie. I have only watched it once, and I think that is enough. Now... Where is Ed Corbin's Oscar nod for his stirring portayal of Bear Man in True Grit? There is no justice!!

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 7:02 a.m. CST

    d

    by MotherPussBucket

    when you're terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought?

  • Jan. 27, 2011, 7:23 a.m. CST

    agreed max

    by MotherPussBucket

    All of the films Viggeo and I mentioned, although I think they're all amazing, I wouldn't watch often because they are so heavy-going. I first saw Cannibal Holocaust about 10 years ago, which I found definitely much harsher and more affecting than anyone had described it to me (mainly 'cos of that real giant tortoise scene - vomit!) and have only watched it once since. Now that I know about Salo, I'll have to check it out but as you say, maybe it won't live up to it's reputation.

  • Sept. 3, 2011, 8:15 a.m. CST

    Seriously?

    by SunTzu77

    I saw this flick and I thought it was an absurd turd with cliched over-the-top societal / gender political tone(s). It should be packaged with "The Human Centipede." Maybe, Tom Six will direct the next Ketchum pabulum.

  • Oct. 16, 2011, 10:24 p.m. CST

    The Woman is more like The Stolen Movie Idea

    by Trina Johnson

    This movie has almost the same main idea of "Jessicka Rabid" except Rabid had an awesome raw feel and didn't suck balls like The Woman. They should have called this movie The Prostitute because it sucked dick. Hopefully Lucky McKee learns from this and tries to use an original concept next time. However, I doubt I'll forget him trying to rip off the up and comers like no one will know. Guess what? You can't put something like this past true horror fans. The only thing scary about this movie was the fact of how shitty it was. Trina