Friday, September 30, 2011

The Girl from the Woods Next Door

Director: Lucky McKee
Writers: Lucky McKee, Jack Ketchum
Starring: Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Angella Bettis
2011 | United States | R | 108 mins

People can't seem to talk about Lucky McKee's The Woman without someone piping in about the film's controversy surrounding the Sundance Film Festival premiere. A man in in the audience was so appalled by the film that he demanded the film print be burned right then and there and made a big stink as he was escorted out of the theatre by security. The aftermath can be seen in full on YouTube. Raving loon or moral crusader? You decide.

Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers), a seemingly all-American family man and successful lawyer, is out hunting one day in the woods surrounding his home when he spots a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) near a stream. Eying her up through the scope, Chris has a plan for her. So he captures her, ties her up in the family work shed, and manages to lose his finger while he tries to have some fun with her. This secret isn't going to be easy to keep so he gathers the whole family together and proposes they all pitch in and try to help "civilize" her. Now this family has a few more concerns besides martial problems, rebellious teenagers, and a depressed daughter.

The Woman is Lucky McKee's second film based off of Jack Ketchum's literary works. His first being the adaptation of Red, a story about a man's revenge for the unjust killing of his dog. Here though it seems Jack Ketchum is revisiting a previous scenario he already wrote about in The Girl Next Door, although this outing is not based loosely, or at all, on fact and has a change of location. Same basic set-up however; a girl/woman is captured by seemingly sane people, punished, tortured, raped, and eventually escapes. In The Woman though she's more of an animal than human per say and exacts her revenge, but it's the same old thing. Pollyanna McIntosh is the film's only saving grace. But she can't save it.

Lucky McKee makes some big mistakes that make this a paint-by-the-numbers captive film. The characters are all highly cliched, uninteresting and hokey, the writing bland and predictable, but the film's biggest offender is the soundtrack. Bubblegum-esque pop-punk saturates the soundtrack and it feels like some bad late 90's high school comedy ala American Pie. This ruins anything that could have possibly made this an atmospheric and chilling venture (of course if it were acted and written better as well). As for the controversy this film has caused, let's call it hype. The Woman is too boring and lame to shock or offend and even Michael Bay's movies are more misogynistic. And the twist they throw in at the end removes any credibility it may still have had. Lucky McKee showed promise as an interesting director to seek out with previous efforts such as May and his highly underrated film The Woods but this effort is just juvenile. The Woman is Lucky McKee's worst film.

All contents copyright 2011 Tyler Baptist

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