Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scary Movie Month Movie Club #4: The Woman

Our Scary Movie Month Movie Club goes out with a bang.

Today is the last installment of our Scary Movie Month Movie Club, and that makes me sad because it means that #ScaryMovieMonth is winding down and will be over seen. The good news is that this weekend we get to watch and talk about what has to be my favorite horror movie of the last 10 or 20 years.

If you're a Netflix subscriber, you can watch it here.

Again, it's not going to be for all tastes. None of us mind if you don't like it. But hopefully you'll give it a chance and find things to talk about in it, even if the sum total doesn't work for you.

These weekend discussions have been one of the best new parts of #ScaryMovieMonth. Thank you to all of you who took the time to watch the choices and who tried to understand what we're going for. The insights and observations have been great -- just another reason why this community is my favorite online.

Can't wait to hear what you have to say about The Woman.


  1. So good.

    Im at a similar position at the moment to where I ended up in last years SMM, where the fun of the simplicity of horror wears off and the need for the movies to attempt more in order to garner my appreciation grows. (the turning point this year was The Collector....fuck that movie).

    Anyway, I really really dig The Woman. Its not necessarily subtle it what its trying to say but at the same time there is very minimal explicit statements of themes, so it ends up walking the great middle ground where it knows that the audience knows what its doing so its not all cutesty and smug about its cleverness.

    Men can be assholes and treat women like property and animals for practical, sexual and social gratification. Justice is whats important irrespective of gender and regardless of whether you are a victim or not, You have a level of responsibility for your actions and will held accountable.
    And thats really just the surface level interpretation.

    Just wonderful. The way it portrays the emotional and psychological abuse in the family is just so well done. It goes a little far with the son, but that serves a bigger purpose than complete realiism.

    Im very keen to hear others interpretations.

    Also, whats up with that postcredit animationy thing?

    1. Glad you dug it! You make a good point that I haven't really thought about before -- part of why the movie succeeds is that it gives the audience credit. It is, as you say, neither subtle nor smug. That's kind of rare.

      It took me three or four viewings before I even SAW that wacky cartoon at the end. Not sure what to make of it. I guess it's some fantasy of Darlin's new life with The Woman.

      What did everyone (or just you, BL), think of the music? I know that's a point of contention for some.

  2. Wow Patrick this film really blew me away. I couldn't contain my thoughts into one comment so I did a review of it: I might go back to it a few days and amend my review after I have a chance to process it properly. But I thought McKee is very brave and is making some incredibly important points about the way women are objectified and sexualised within horror and to a greater extent society. One question I ask in the review though is why do you think more women weren't involved in the production of this film? I really admire McKee as a filmmaker so I will be sure to check out May as well.

    1. Great write up Gabby.
      Out of fear of sounding like a "man" im not sure the film is as pro women as much it is anti objectification of women... if that makes sense. The point I look at for this statement is the retribution towards the mum due to her complacency and participation, despite her clearly being a victim and eventually getting the inner strength to stand up. Mum had the biggest journey in the film but in the end is still held accountable for where she started.
      So while it is clearly about the objectification of women in society I think it is also about social justice regardless of gender.
      It's a small distinction really but it ends up meaning that the movie is saying objectification of women is bad and standing up for justice for all is good, rather than "men bad, women good".

      Also, what happened to September?

    2. Thanks Brad. I agree with that distinction. I think it is interesting what you say about the mum, and I agree with. It is also interesting what that says about women in society, how they are taught to be subservient, but then this means that she stands by as her daughters and this other woman gets abused, so maybe McKee is addressing that as well.

      September is back on now, had a bit of a technical issue! Let me know what you think of it.

    3. Nice ideas in the Sept write up. I haven't seen Calendar Girls so I can't comment on the film specifically but based on your examples it sounds about right. Might check it out :-)

    4. I might be giving the film a bit too much credit because I have a fondness for it and the actors involved, but thanks,.I think you might find it interesting if you watch it with that idea of it being a bit subversive (despite having the gloss of a traditional comedy). :)

  3. There is so much to love about The Woman - great writing, great performances - like Brad said above, the message is not hard to get and it's not trying to be - but it's just presented so well that it makes you FEEL that message better than many other movies that have tackled it. Just in some of the looks exchanged between "The Woman" and the other women in the Cleek family - she gets it and they get it and you get it.

    I think it's amazing that they're able to bring humour to the horrible proceedings without it being tasteless. Sean Bridgers' performance is beautifully comedic AND psychopathic - you can't help but like HALF of him - which I'm sure is often true of the type of secretly abusive assholes he's portraying. All of the Cleek actors do a great job expressing subtle and conflicting emotions - love the cast as a whole.

    And Patrick, I love the music (and my fiancée seconds that emotion) - just fits everything perfectly and always seems to add an appropriate energy to the situation.

    I bought this basically having heard nothing of it except Patrick's review and it immediately became a favourite - I'm glad to see it in the spotlight here again and I hope other people enjoy it as much as I do!

  4. Just toss me onto the pile of people who love The Woman, one of the most refreshingly original horror movies of the past few years. I liked May a lot, which was had me wanting to see The Woman in the first place (though I didn't like The Woods very much) and I ended up liking The Woman quite a bit more. Sean Bridgers in particular is a revelation...a surprisingly funny performance while still remaining thoroughly despicable.

    Also, I want to point out how much I adore the irony of a woman named Pollyanna giving such a fearless and feral performance as The Woman herself. I don't think Angela Bettis gets enough credit most of the time and this is no exception (she was even good in the misguided Carrie TV pilot a decade or so ago).

    Speaking of Carrie, having seen the remake today I couldn't help but wonder what Lucky McKee could have brought to that story, as his movies all have such a strong feminist stance that a self-proclaimed feminist filmmaker like Kimberly Pierce can't even seem to approximate. I feel like he would be able to do a version that truly has something to say about Carrie as a young woman, but honestly I'm happier seeing him forging his own path and telling stories like The Woman.

    I love the power-pop music, it's a bold choice that I think really works. Everything about the movie is bold, and there's truly nothing else like it, not from McKee himself, nor in the other Jack Ketchum adaptations that have been popping up on Netflix over the past few years. This is (sort of) a sequel to The Offspring, I've read that novel but I haven't seen the movie. Has anybody here seen it? Is it worth seeking out?

    I didn't know about the animated sequence after the credits mentioned above...I'll have to check that out, you've got me curious!

  5. Am I right in thinking that the blind dog girl was a daughter of the family born with Anophthalmia so she was discarded into the dog house practically from birth?

    1. I think that's a correct interpretation.

    2. Also, I saw The Offspring after seeing The Woman. They are VERY different movies. I was not a fan of The Offspring at all.

    3. I only just found out that the woman is a sequel. Always thought the intro sequence was to show her maternal attributes and past abuse, so to show her as A Woman not a masculine aggressive animal.

      From the sounds of it I think I'll stick with my interpretation for now.
      Thanks for the heads up :-)

  6. This is what I’d call a “three-fourths” movie, in that only three-fourths of the story is on screen, forcing the viewer to turn to the internet or tie-in materials for the complete picture. The movie’s not going to tell you what “anophthalmia” is, thus you’ve got to go look it up yourself, and in doing so, you’ve given yourself a better understanding of what’s going on in the movie’s insane finale. Only then does it become clear that the ending is not just random weirdness.

    There are a bunch of other story elements that McKee and company choose not to reveal. Just how long has the family been like this? How did things get this bad? The biggest head-scratcher is Peg’s pregnancy? Is she pregnant? It’s not really confirmed. If so, who’s the dad? A lot of people assume it’s her father in some kind of ultra-creepy incest thing, but I wonder if it’s more interesting if it’s not him (others have suggested it’s the guy from the swimming pool, but, again, the movie simply doesn’t give us enough info). The way Peg breaks down crying in gym class, and that super-awkward talk with her dad when he mentions her going to college, informs the character. The pregnancy is a concern both for her future, and her monstrously psycho dad. Every writing instructor ever would tell you that all aspects of the plot have to make perfect sense and everything has to be tied up in a big fat bow at the end. The Woman doesn’t do that, and yet it still entertains.

    Yes, despite my nitpickery, the movie does entertain. When you’re seeing it for the first time, you’re wondering what will happen next, and when you’re seeing it on repeat viewings, you’re picking up on a the little details and foreshadowings.

    1. I actually prefer the ambiguity, and see it as all pointing towards the dad as having gotten her pregnant.
      The "talk" scene is fantastic.

    2. Agreed on liking the ambiguity, and I believe dad got her pregnant too.

    3. I've never interpreted it any other way.