Thoughts on The Woman, a film by Lucky McKee

On Halloween I ended up watching an Indie horror movie called The Woman (2011). Directed and co-written by Lucky McKee, the film is a grisly tale of a man holding a feral woman captive in order to “civilize” her. He involves his entire family in the civilization process, which of course is completely uncivilized. Yes, it’s violent, yes, it made me uncomfortable, and yes, I liked the movie. It was entertaining, thrilling, and kept me guessing. The last 20 minutes were especially violent and shocking. Today I began to search the internet for more information about the film and was shocked to find the response to it was so polarizing. Sure, a gory movie doesn’t sit well with everyone, but I assumed most people who are into low budget horror films know what they are getting themselves into. Apparently one man went so far as to cause a scene at Sundance this past year after the film was shown. People in the comments on the video cried “publicity stunt” but based on McKee’s reaction I don’t think that was the case.

The Woman, who is never given a name, is treated like an animal. Her treatment by the father of the family is appalling, but it’s supposed to be. This is a horror movie. I think what makes people uncomfortable is the fact that it doesn’t seem that farfetched. There aren’t any monsters, except one that looks like your next door neighbor. It’s terrifying when you realize that sometimes the bad guy isn’t labeled or obvious, but isn’t that the world we live in? The man who took issue with film had a big problem with the violence toward the woman. I wasn’t offended by it because it wasn’t glorified. We weren’t rooting for him. He was disgusting and vile. McKee wasn’t teaching men to civilize, beat, rape, and control women. I don’t think he was necessarily teaching us anything, other than what a thrilling horror movie should be. Bottom line, true terror comes from something you encounter everyday. True terror doesn’t come from masked murderers attacking bikini clad teenagers. The father in the movie is a lawyer, has a wife and 3 (4?) kids. They appear to be a normal everyday family. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This man manipulates and controls everything. At the beginning of the movie you watch as his teenage son chooses to continue shooting hoops when he witnesses a girl being taunted by a group of boys. The apple obviously isn’t going to fall far from the tree, if it even falls at all. Some could argue that any amount of violence toward women in movies is going to perpetuate more violence toward women in movies. I never doubted that the woman, who has survived on her own in the woods for who knows how long, was going to get revenge. I didn’t look at this movie as a commentary on women in the media. I saw it as a portrayal of a man who maintains an air of normalcy among neighbors and coworkers, but underneath is a sadistic tyrant. From my perspective, violence was not glorified. No one was rewarded for their actions. It was an entertaining horror movie. If you don’t mind gore, watch it. If that stuff makes your skin crawl, then stay away.

Hope you had a Happy Halloween!

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