Can You Use Kidnapping, Rape, And Torture To Make A Statement? The Trailer For Lucky McKee's The Woman
Earlier today, I received an email from Dustin with a link to the trailer for Lucky McKee’s The Woman, with a message that simply said, “I’m not touching it. Not fucking touching it. But if you want to, have at it.” Never one to back down from a challenge, I watched it, and while it’s not the horrible monstrosity I was expecting, it’s still pretty unpleasant.
Dustin’s made his thoughts on the film pretty clear here and here. It’s unlikely that I’ll see The Woman — Dustin’s lurid description of the film, wherein a suburban father finds a wild, feral woman in the woods, kidnaps her and attempts to “civilize” her through repeated torture and rape, in the midst of casually abusing his wife and family, is more than enough to keep me away. Not necessarily because it’s a bad movie, though he clearly felt that way (but God knows we disagree often enough), but because onscreen rape and sexual violence for pretty much any reason, are triggers for me, and I simply lack the fortitude to sit through the scenes. I’ve seen Irreversible, and I’m simply not going back. That’s just me. Perhaps it’s a weakness as a critic and a writer, and if that’s the case then it’s a weakness I shan’t apologize for.
As for McKee’s film, it’s probably an interesting case study. From what I can tell, it’s a bit satirical, and some of the dialogue seems gruesomely tongue-in-cheek. Some have called it empowering, some have called it grossly misogynistic, some have called it biting satire or a piercing examination of gender inequalities. All I know is that whatever statement McKee is trying to make, it can often get lost amidst the overwhelming torture-porniness of it. And frankly, I simply can’t work within that sensibility. I can understand using human baseness and viciousness as a narrative tool, but films like The Woman and I Spit On Your Grave take far too much time focusing on the act itself, on vulgar and intense concentration on the suffering and pain and horror of the actual occurring, than on the ramifications of it. And to simply turn it into a revenge flick and call it a day doesn’t justify the time spent filming a helpless human suffering. For what it’s worth, I feel the same way about Hostel and other torture films. It’s suffering without purpose, and I simply can’t get behind that.
Anyway, that was a long and indignantly self-righteous introduction, for which I do apologize. I normally would have turned Dustin down on this one, but unlike I Spit On Your Grave, McKee and his films have some thoughtful, well-reasoned defenders, and as such it seems like it’s worth posting if for no reason other than to spark a conversation.
So here’s the trailer. Watch it, and feel free to post your thoughts below. I’m quite curious.