Jarv gets pissy at The Woman
As a general rule of thumb, I despise torture porn. My reasons for doing so are that it’s lazy, invariably full of appalling writing, and the desire to push the envelope, to shock and sicken the audience as opposed to inducing legitimate fear means that we have countless films were ill-developed characters are reprehensibly damaged for the gratuitous titillation of the slavering hordes that comprise the audience. We invariably do not empathise or care for the victim, as without fail the victim is either an asshole of some description or so heinously under-developed that they are little more than meat puppets creatively wounded for no legitimate narrative reason. I also think, and I’m probably alone in this, that the extreme torture porn that substitutes for horror nowadays is damned close to causing the terminal death of the genre. Don’t misread me here, because I’ve got no problems with extreme violence or gore, but I’d like the pivotal scene to have an impact, such as the hammer sequence in Kill List. It’s a naïve hope, this one, but I honestly believe that making me wince is no substitute for making me scared, and I wish the whole sorry subgenre would fuck off back to obscurity. Nevertheless, if there’s one thing that I really hate, and I do despise this, then it’s crass and obnoxious attempts to justify torture porn by duty of it being “artistic”, to hide the film-maker’s overwhelming desire for sadism behind a horseshit message; a flawed and dishonest “metaphor” about modern life/ feminism/ philosophy/ fuck knows what that invariably is merely window dressing to the gratuitous and masturbatory acts of mutilation.
With that in mind, this review is going to go well, isn’t it…. Oh, and heavy fucking spoilers below.
Believe it or not, I don’t actually take any pleasure from handing out beatings to films. Well, a little bit, but it’s not worth the price I’ve paid, in that I’ve had to sit through the fucking thing in the first instance. This time around, my crosshairs are firmly set on overrated hack and darling of Aint It Cool, Lucky Mckee’s third film The Woman. This man has a fucking lousy track record with the meh May followed by the utterly dismal The Woods, he’s yet to make a film that I actually like, although with this one, he’s managed to make one I utterly fucking despise. Why would I bother watching this trash? Well, brother Kloipy gave it a very well-mannered and erudite kicking over at Pop Culture Ninja, and given that we are polar opposites on Martyrs, I wondered if the reverse effect would happen here: would I buy the film’s message and use it to excuse the garbage on screen?
Frankly? No. I fucking didn’t. This is boring and reprehensible trash that flirts with outright insult on more than one occasion. I’m, actually, tempted to accuse it of misandrism, but as I’m in possession of a functioning pair of testicles (even if my wife does keep them safe for me), I don’t feel any need to hide behind pathetic reactionary nonsense. At the end of the day, you can’t lay a charge of misandry on this film, as it’s basically criminally inept, staggeringly boring, amazingly predictable, poorly shot, dismally scored tiresome shit and isn’t worth a label as strong as that.
Allegedly based on a true story, well The Guardian seem to think it is, The Woman is a pointless and irritating exercise. Following the antics of sadist nut-job lawyer Chris, Sean Bridgers, and his attempt to civilise a feral woman (Pollyanna Mcintosh) that he captures one day in the woods. Back at home, Chris supplements his exercise with frequent bouts of casual wife-beating (Angela Bettis plays the poor woman), sexually abusing his daughter (this is never spelled out, but I’ll fucking bet on it), played by Lauren Ashley Carter, and training his son, Zach Rand, in the way of the pervert. Oh, and he also keeps dogs, or does he? Nah, only messing, he’s got another feral woman trained as a guard dog living in a kennel in the basement. Which, incidentally, makes the climax of the movie, the so-called horror sequence, fucking laughably bad. Seriously, it’s hilariously lame, and I’ll come to it in a moment. Finally, his youngest daughter, Darlin’, mostly seems to get off without too much trauma.
Into this comes The Woman. The film basically chronicles her debasement at the hands of Chris, before her eventual release by Peggy and act of random cannibalism on the wife. Chris loses a finger to her early on, so decides to teach her a lesson, which unsurprisingly culminates in a rape, while Brian follows his example and tortures her with pliers while masturbating. Yup, pleasant. Eventually, Brian’s teacher twigs that something is wrong, so Chris feeds her to the guard dog. Peggy, in a bid to save the teacher’s life sets The Woman free, who eats Belle before hilariously slaughtering Brian and tearing Chris’ still-beating heart out of his chest. She then tames the Guard feral woman by slapping it (not joking) and buggers off into the wood with Darlin’. It’s implied that she’s going to be training Darlin’ in the Way of the Cannibal.
I have several fundamental problems here. The first is that it’s tonally dreadful. Bridgers seems to think he’s in a different film from everyone else, so plays it almost winking at the audience. I’m not joking about this, the expression on his face while he’s raping the woman is frankly fucking inexplicable. This is an outright horrible performance, and considering he’s got the menace of a concussed hamster, I’m not buying this fucking pussy as a sociopath for a fucking second. Secondly, there are several sequences that I’m damned sure are meant to be black comedy (the finger eating leaping to mind) that just aren’t fucking funny in the slightest. When the subject matter is relentlessly grim as this is, I can understand the need to induce levity, but Black Comedy is extremely difficult to get right and if you miss, then all it does is undermine the entire atmosphere of the film.
Secondly, it’s not scary. This, as is always the way with trash like The Woman, is to be expected, but what I wasn’t expecting is that it’s mind-numbingly boring. Fuck all happens of interest on the farm, but we do get to see Chris in his office doing lawyer type things. Fascinating. I’m sure this nonsense is meant to be character development, but it’s a huge fucking failure. Talking about which, the character development here is laughable. Peggy is surly and always ill, the mother is a punchbag, Chris is a one dimensional hypocrite rapist, and the son is an obvious fruit loop. This is not exactly powerful writing.
Thirdly, and this is where I’m getting on my high horse. Apparently, the Woman is some kind of feminist horror film. Bear with me on this one, but her trials and tribulations are meant to represent subjugation at the hands of the phalliocracy, before she is freed by a “sister” and overthrows the evil Y-Chromosomes in an act of glorious revolution. Except she buggers this up by eating a sister. Yay, feminism. Or whatever. Anyway, where was I, oh yes, bullshit metaphors being used as a fig leaf for gratuitous nastiness. Right, basically, the film could play this card, and it really could, but for a couple of heinous mistakes. The first is the soundtrack, which is grotesquely inappropriate for this kind of subject matter, not to mention that it flirts with being laughably unsubtle (honestly, when she’s caught the chorus “I wanna make you mine” is singing) on more than one occasion. The second is the way that Mckee films the Woman herself. This is lascivious, we’re treated to lingering shots of her naked body glistening with water/ sweat, and then he tries to imply her steel will and unwillingness to bow before the mighty penis with a strong and unwavering gaze? Eat a dick, Mckee you fucking hack.
I fucking object to this nonsense. I really do. Look, there’s nothing wrong with exploitation, nothing at all. I’m actually on record at intentionally digging up a lot of it and then having a blast. What I do object to is playing some kind of ridiculous message card to try to cover up the fact that the film is cunting exploitation in the first fucking place. Let me give you one reason why this doesn’t work here: total male characters in The Woman? 2- both sociopaths. Nice one, Mckee, you fucking dick. If you’re attempting to pass this off as a metaphor then you need one of two things: isolation where he clearly is the big swinging dick of the homestead, or alternatively a whole fucking society of bastard men. You cannot have the characters going out and interacting with others and only show 2 blokes, both of whom are obviously deranged. What’s the implication, that this town is reverse-stepford and all the men live inside? Or that the representatives of the male gender are all degenerate rapists and sadists given half a chance? I’ll give you a clue, dickhead, most of us can control ourselves and feel absolutely no need to tie up and then rape Gollum’s uglier younger sister. You can take this fauxminism and jam it right up your fucking arsehole, you mendacious scumbag.
Overall, this is bullshit. It’s obnoxious and cuntish bullshit. It’s getting a fucking Orangutan of Doom, and it fucking deserves one, because I’m fucking sick to death of this moral cowardice. If you want to make exploitation, make it, don’t try to pretend that your sordid little fetishism is a fucking artistic statement, because at best its undergraduate level, and at worst it’s patronising crap of the worst order. If this film weren’t so fucking inept, it would be offensive, but luckily it’s boring and laughably shit so I’m not offended by it. Basically, the Woman is another case of the Emperor standing there with his cock out and I’m picking the part of the kid saying “He’s fucking naked, someone section the cunt”.
Fuck this noise, and I wish people would have some balls and make actual exploitation rather than pretend that they’re making some kind of message nonsense.
Until next time,