The Woman (Mayhem Horror Festival)

This review contains spoilers.

This screening of The Woman (imdb) on 7th October was a kind of a warm-up for the Mayhem Horror Festival, which will take place on the last October weekend, in Nottingham’s best cinema, the Broadway Cinema. And what I have to say first: it’s a pity, that this American horror film won’t be shown again – it was an unique screening. But you guys over there in the the US are lucky ones, The Woman opens in the next few days. Save the date: 14th October. (You find the cinemas showing the film right HERE) But back to business: This film is actually more about the abyss of mankind and the instincts of the people rather than a “normal” horror movie. It does not have the big frightening, scary moments, but is both bloody and very shocking. It has only few places in it, but this is surely enough to build a special tension and to draw an odd American family.

The film takes us to the countryside in the United States on a huge farm of the family man and loving father Christopher Cleek (Sean Bridgers). Christopher is a lawyer and has a wife and three lovely children, two girls and a boy, some dogs, everything seems idyllic. Right from the beginning you notice a certain patriarchy, but it looks like the normal care for the family and the will to protect everything and everybody. One day he is hunting in the woods and comes into contact with a feral woman (incredibly played by Pollyana McIntosh) who lives there. At first, Christopher only watches her cleaning herself (including nude scene) and returns with some ideas in his minds. He asks his family to clean up the basement not telling them what for, except of a surprise. The next day he catches the woman and imprison her in the basement. He wants to civilize her; and his family shall help.

The Woman is a film that – again – divides a family into two pieces; and here it is the most obvious one: men and women. Christopher turns out to be a very dominant and sadistic man, but his male offspring is even more sadistic. The film wants to show the outcome of a really bad influence, e.g. in one scene, Christopher has sex with the enchained woman while his son is watching him through a small hole in the door. One day later we follow him going to the basement with pliers to torture the woman’s nipples. Only his ill sister can stop him.

She is the good part in the film, she always wants to help the woman and tries to stop the rest of the family harassing the unknown. The relationship is another example of the influence of the parents to their child, although we find a kind of negative climax. The mother only tries to break out of the family – near the end she is strong and tells her husband. In the following scene he knocks her out. Before she follows the instructions of Christopher – that’s why she should be seen as a bad person at all. The audience has the possibility to judge the characters, but in the end it is the woman who judges. And she decides to kill everybody except of the two daughters. You see, this is the instincts I was talking about in the beginning; the woman “sees” who is good and who is not.

The conclusion of The Woman for me is that director Lucky McKee wanted to show the real abyss of the human race in an tapering way. It shows bad influence and the sick thoughts of the people and that the bad guys don’t feel remorse. He also shows that there is good and that this will be rewarded. He has one appeal: Live and let live. I don’t know if these are too easy thoughts, but this is what the film is actually about. It takes us on a bloody trip of both a family and a feral woman. The film offers some good (I left you some Turkey 😉 ) and some not so good ideas, some you’d expect, some not. All in all it is worth watching, although it is not the best horror film I’ve ever seen.

Finally, it was a wonderful appetizer for the upcoming Mayhem Horror Festival. I hope to see a lot of good films there – and maybe I meet some of you. When you are around, just leave me a text. And for the lucky guys living in the UK, go to Amazon and buy the DVD or BluRay – I really don’t know why an American film is released on DVD in the UK around the same time as it is released in the US in the cinemas… however you  can get the Jack Ketchum story this is based on at

Marc Biskup

Marc is a long-time staff member at the Spaghetti Western Database and a contributor at FC. In his real life he saves a German city's cultural scene from the savagery of brainless mass media. Currently, he lives in Nottingham.

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