The Woman

Calculatedly ugly and undeservedly controversial.

Calculatedly ugly and undeservedly controversial, “The Woman” is an exercise in extreme horror, albeit one as lacking in scares as it is devoid of wit, flair and thematic focus. Happening upon a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) in the woods, a sociopathic court officer (Sean Bridgers) captures her and, under the guise of civilizing the savage, chains her from head to toe in the cellar of the farmhouse he shares with his psychologically damaged wife (Angela Bettis) and kids. Director Lucky McKee (“May”) relies on piercing soundtrack noises and unimaginatively lensed gore in a failed bid to get the viewer’s goat.

Forced to wear a dress, McIntosh’s dark-eyed wild woman learns to say “please” and “thank you” while obviously plotting to break her shackles and wreak bloody revenge on her captors. The script by McKee and Jack Ketchum seems to want to critique the American nuclear family, but there’s nothing remotely satiric in it. Boredom sets in at the halfway point, as the movie grinds its way to a predictable conclusion. At Sundance, McKee’s film was preceded by “¡Mi Burro!,” Zach Passero’s seven-minute work of sick and twisted animation.

The Woman

  • Production: A Moderncine production. (International sales: Cinetic Media, New York.) Produced by Robert Tonino, Andrew van den Houten. Executive producers, Frank Olsen, Loren Semmens. Directed by Lucky McKee. Screenplay, Jack Ketchum, McKee, based on their novel.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Alex Vendler; editor, Zach Passero; music, Sean Spillane; production designer, Krista Gall; art director, Jeff Subik; costume designers, Sandra Alexandre, Michael Bevins. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight), Jan. 26, 2011. Running time: 102 MIN.
  • With: With: Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Angela Bettis, Zach Rand, Carlee Baker, Brandon Gerald Fuller.