Lucky McKee, USA, 2011, 101 min.
A hunter gazes through his scope at the woman: Young, dirty, a wild animal. She is in no way attractive, covered in grime and open wounds, but he sees past that to the sexual beast he knows she is. You can feel that he has to have her.
For that scene to work you have to believe the character of the hunter, in actuality a well-off family man with a wife and three kids, is capable of those thoughts and deeds. The opening of the film sets that up well. We see him in his life, normal on the outside, but with undercurrents of something sinister. The face of his poor wife and eldest daughter show more than they are letting on.
So when he captures the woman and locks her up in the storm cellar for “rehabilitation”, and when the family is a bit surprised but goes along with it, you believe it. Because of the tone of the script and the subtlety involved in setting this up, you can buy into the film.
If that strong opening gave the film-makers some leeway, they soon squander it. Things go along well for awhile: some disturbing scenes, tension-building, mystery surrounding true motivations, etc. But at some point the story doesn’t know what to do next. Characters perform strange actions and a reveal comes that was unearned.
The movie would have been better served concentrating on the family scenes with the domineering father: the scary Sean Bridgers. Or concentrating on the daughter and her dynamic with the young hip high school teacher: the very cool Carlee Baker.
But instead we get something made to shock us. But in this day and age, when potential shock is everywhere you look, I want something more than the standard gore/torture film. Unfortunately, after a promising opening, that is all The Woman has to offer.