The Woman (2011): Nell With a Twist


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Lucky McKee directed and co-wrote (with author Jack Ketchum) The Woman; a film  that could be called Nell on acid. Although this is a sequel to the 2009 McKee film Offspring about a “tribe” of cannibals who roamed the north-east coast. The “woman” is the sole survivor of this tribe. But not having seen the film, I did not learn this from watching the feature. Wikipedia kindly supplied that information.

Like the 1994 film Nell, where a small town doctor (Liam Neeson) finds a “wild” hermit girl who has very limited social skills, The Woman features a male character who finds a “hermit-like” feral girl with very limited social skills. The main difference between the two films are that in Nell, Neeson’s character wants to help the girl.

The male in The Woman does not have help in mind when he captures the feral woman.

Vive le différence.

Of course the other connection between the two films is that the actor who plays Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) was also in Nell. Small world isn’t it? I’ve also got to say, it bothered the hell  out of me that Bridgers looked enough like Will Ferrell to be his twin brother.

The Woman opens with a wild and savage woman in the woods. She is feral and adept at hunting and fishing. She’s also Amazonian in stature and apparently quite strong. Chris Cleek goes out into the woods to hunt and stumbles across her.

He is obviously intrigued and makes plans to capture her. He succeeds in this and takes her captive. Unlike Nell, where the good doctor wants to study and help his “discovery,” Cleek wants to turn her into his and his son’s plaything. Something to torture and humiliate and abuse.

The Cleek family consists of Chris, wife Belle (Angela Bettis), daughters Peggy  (Lauren Ashley Carter) and Darlin’ (Shyla Molhusen) plus son Brian (Zach Rand). The family is all about what Chris wants. He is a class A pervert, control freak and hater of women. Son Brian, under his dad’s loving but controlling tutelage, is a chip off the old block.

While the woman is held captive in the old storm cellar, tensions rise as the whole family become involved with this wild creature and the school is getting concerned at the constant absence of Peggy from classes.

As the film moves disturbingly to it’s almost inevitable and anticipated finish, you will be hard pressed not to be disgusted at the way that head of the family Chris rules his family with an iron hand. The females of his family are terrified of him and not without cause.

While the woman he is holding captive in the cellar might be feral, he is a monster and son Brian a monster in-training.

Not the real monster in this story.
Not the real monster in this story.

When the film premiered in the US, there was some controversy about the subject matter and the way that women were treated and depicted in the film. I seem to remember charges of sensationalism being levied as well. But considering that director Lucky McKee was not above generating any kind of publicity for his film, I don’t know how much credence can be given to any of these charges.

As for myself, I couldn’t for the life of me decide whether the filmmakers were making an anti-feminist sort of statement or were awkwardly trying to make some sort of empowering statement for women!

The climax is shocking, but not surprising. It is bloody and savage and well worth the wait. But having said that, it is still confusing. It is a powerful film and a shocking and disturbing one.

I would give the film a 3.5 stars out of 5 only because it was very different. Not having seen the prequel of Offspring, I have no idea if continuity was good or bad. I only know that for the most part, I found the film very distasteful and kept watching to see if some sort of justice would be served.

A film that is definitely not for everyone. But if you can stand it, it is on Netflix at the moment.

Not nearly as violent or disturbing...
Not nearly as violent or disturbing…

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

32 thoughts on “The Woman (2011): Nell With a Twist”

  1. Lucky McKee is hit and miss with me, usually within the same movie. I give him credit for originality and for the psychological horror in his stories but I often don’t like where/how his films conclude. (mostly dismal endings)

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    1. I was blissfully unaware of Lucky McKee’s existence until his publicity stunt when The Woman premiered two years ago and I’d never heard of his prequel Offspring until I went to write this review! 😀

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    2. I never had the original cable channel that put MOH out (Starz) but got many of them on dvd. I started with my fave directors, Carpenter, Gordon, Landis and then purchased others based on the trailers on those dvds. I think some of them are really great, although I know some of my fellow horror bloggers don’t completely agree. You have to not mind the one-hour running time – it was a TV show (R-rated and pretty nasty) not a series of movies.

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      1. I managed to see the episode that Takeshi Miike did that everyone got so upset about. I also saw one or two more on a channel that doesn’t carry the program any longer.

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  2. Good review. It’s an odd movie that didn’t really do a lot for me. It didn’t really make the most of its ideas. Pollyanna McIntosh as The Woman was easily the best thing in it. She was pretty outstanding.

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    1. Thanks mate and I agree about McIntosh…wait a minute, is WordPress doing the old “double” remarks thing again? I had that happen to me the other day! Thanks again for commenting mate!! 😀

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      1. Ha-ha! Sorry about the double comment thing. It’s my fault. The first one seemed to vanish into the ether when I posted it, so I posted another one. Feel free to delete one of them if you want! 🙂

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      2. I had the exact same thing happen to me this morning! I made a comment on Films and Things and it suddenly vanished! I redid it, but much shorter, and sure enough the first one had gone through! LOL No worries mate!

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  3. Nice review. Admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of this. Some interesting ideas, but I don’t think enough was made of them really. Pollyanna McIntosh as The Woman though is pretty outstanding. Easily the best thing in the movie.

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  4. Nice review 😀
    I have to say, I’m intrigued now!
    I avoided it before because the write up kind of reminded me of Eden Lake which I can’t stand. I’ve gone off all these torture films, some of them are so depraved!
    But this sounds intriguing, somewhat!

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      1. Lol fair enough, whatever floats your boar
        I really hated it, don’t know why! I’ve gone off all these depraved nasty torture films…mainly because it’s all too real and disturbing!

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      2. I loved the underlying message of the film. I guess because I was a juvenile Prison Officer, I could see all too well where the filmmakers were coming from. 🙂

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  5. Good review. I used to have a podcast and we had Lucky McKee on the show and he was a complete asshole!

    He didnt wanna be on the show so why do it? Gave lame answers than went off on a rant. He said it wasn’t personal and he liked us.

    But there was no reason to act the way he did on a show just taken off. I liked the movie by the way, but after his antics I’ll never watch his films again.

    His career isn’t going anywhere and he’s just miserable

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    1. That’s definitely the way he came across on the telly clips I saw of him! It’s a shame when you have to deal with people in the business who are twats! Thanks for sharing that dude!

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      1. Yeah he was a total dick. On the plus side, Debbie Rochon, Tiffany Shepis & Adrienne King were great!! The Shepis interview is my favorite. McKee is just a miserable asshole

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      2. All 4 were on different times. Debbie was February of 2012, Tiffany April of 2012 and Adrienne August of 2012.

        McKee was March of last year. Actually 2-weeks after Debbie.

        My co-host and I don’t speak anymore. But he booked McKee. I booked all the other guests. I research first. Make sure they’re cool to avoid problems. He booked McKee on impulse.

        We didnt respond back. Take the high road. He came off like an ass not us.

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      3. I think it’s more angry and bitter that his career hasn’t taken off.

        In most of his films they are centered around women. So my co-host asked him about that.

        Lucky’s response “I dig chicks”

        Really??? Are you 12???

        I asked him if he has any advice for young filmmakers

        Lucky’s response “Just shoot something even if using an iPhone”

        Besides being bitter he doesn’t seem to have very good social skills.

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      4. Yeah who knows lol. But after what happened I’m done with films. I kinda liked his work as well but after his antics I’m done.

        We were a little show. I did most of the work, which in part started the rift between my co-host and I. But I worked hard to build a reputation for the show and make connections that got us Debbie and Tiffany as well as Adrienne King.

        No way I will allow some jerk to ruin that.

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