They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge (unless you count that time Kate Erbland was dared to walk like a man while singing “Walk Like a Man” and wearing an inflated latex glove on her head), so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy!
Even though it’s a sequel to a 2009 film called The Offspring, Lucky McKee’s The Woman can stand fine on its own as a super weird and super horrific tale of misogyny taken to its furthest extent. That film introduces us to a clan of cannibals who abduct and devour townsfolk somewhere in the Northeast. It details the fate of the last surviving member of this clan (Pollyanna McIntosh) and what happens when a hunter comes upon her one day when he’s out in the woods.
Which begs the question, what would you do if you came across a cannibalistic woman bathing in a river? Because this creep (Sean Bridgers) decides to chain her up down in his root cellar and instruct his family through the process of trying to civilize her. And, even worse, this guy being an abusive, creepy misogynist, his idea of civilizing someone probably resembles psychological torture and sexual abuse much more than other people’s. Revenge scenarios follow.
Seeing as this movie follows a pretty simple revenge structure, all of the really killer stuff comes too late to be given away. There is a standout scene in the first act though. It starts when the man decides that the feral woman is much too filthy and stinky to be chained up down in his root cellar. Deciding that she needs to be cleaned, he asks his wife to assist him in scrubbing her down. Of course, she initially wants to protest, but we get a good sense of the hold that he has over her mind as he forcefully convinces her that there’s nothing at all inappropriate about the situation.
As he undresses the woman and goes about scrubbing her, we see the turmoil on the wife’s face. There’s some indication that the husband has finally pushed her too far by involving her in this disturbing, too intimate bit of kidnapping maintenance. The tension around whether she’s going to stand up to her husband is built… and then nothing. Your hopes are raised and then dashed, and how horrific it is when good people see evil and do nothing starts to set in. Far from a blood and guts romp, The Woman is psychological horror of the first order.
There’s tons of nudity throughout this movie, sometimes of the full frontal variety. But it all happens in a super creepy, sexual torture type context. Do boobs and bush count when they’re coming from a scary forest woman? Do sexual encounters count when they’re the disturbing kind that chill you to your bones instead of titillating you to your boner? Let’s just rate this one right in the middle so we don’t look too much like weirdos.
Yeah, a lot of the horror in The Woman comes from revealing the evil that lurks in the hearts of men, but it’s also a movie about cannibals. There’s a ton of gross flesh-eating and body torture in here, especially in the film’s cathartic climax. The end of The Woman is like watching fireworks, but with blood and guts instead of pretty colored sparks, and chances are the more squeamish people of the world won’t be able to get through the whole film without losing their lunches. And then their breakfasts. And then just dry heaving for a while.
From the very first frame all the way to the last, The Woman is full of disturbing imagery that will stick with you long after the film is over. And, in addition to that, it’s got plenty of disgusting gore that hits you hard right in the moment as well. Throw in a handful of jump scares when the flesh-eating woman lashes out at her captors, and The Woman basically becomes a triple threat regarding scares. Watch at your own risk.
Unlike your usual horror film, The Woman works just as hard at establishing its characters as it does at establishing a menacing mood, so the horrific things that the people you’re introduced to go through feel far more disturbing than the stuff that the inhuman monsters do to the faceless bits of canon fodder in most generic horror flicks. Here you understand why everyone is doing what they’re doing, you can infer what must have happened to them to lead them to this point, and, worst of all, you can kind of relate with what they’re going through. If that doesn’t make your skin crawl, then I don’t know what will.