At Sunday’s midnight Library screening of Lucky McKee’s The Woman, the audience began to groan and yelp when the flesh tearing and bloodletting started as the family literally gets torn apart by both violent patriarchal urges and some strange feral females. One viewer couldn’t get out of the theater quick enough and she either tripped or fainted mid aisle, hitting her head on the armrest of the actress on the screen. Ushers rushed to her and she was helped up as some yelled for water and an ambulance. Unlike a similar incident in the NYFF screening of Lars Von Triers Antichrist, here in Park City the film played on its bloody merry way.
However, when the lights came up and just before Lucky could come to the stage for the Q&A, a middle-aged man with booming voice stood in the isle and started a sermon. “Who would make such garbage, what point does it have, this is degrading to women and men…” He went on for a bit like that until audience members started to shout him down. One beefy Lucky fan [ed. note: Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny—read his review/account here] jumped to his feet and got right in his face saying, “Sit down and show respect for the artist, sit down and shut up…” Just as it looked like it might get physical, ushers got between the two and tried to get the fanatic to sit down. Security came in and had to pull the guy out of his seat as he demanded his money back. I think he was one of the Rev Phelps kook crew in town to protest Red State.
I was a big fan of McKee’s 2002 film May, a female Frankenstein-like tale of a lonely bullied girl with a lazy eye who desperately wants a true friend. He had a couple of films after that, which I found disappointing, but I would say The Woman is for sure a very competent, confident return to form that lives up to the promise of May. This type of movie is certainly not for everyone. The un-naturalistic acting and self-conscious staging will keep many more standard fare horror fans away. On the bus, I heard some simple-minded comments about the “bad acting.”
The Rev Phelps crew—if that is who that was—are obviously not that intelligent, but they picked a wrong target in Lucky McKee, a filmmaker whose protagonists are often strong women fighting the darker urges of the ‘normal’ world. The Woman is actually a very articulate attack on male patriarchal dominance and it takes focus on the absolute worst aspects of manhood. Yes, it still does contain a lot of anger and violence, much of it heaped onto the female characters, but the point becomes clear and is driven home in the end when the female survivors walk back into the woods. As the programmer said in his introduction of the film, “This film makes you embarrassed to be a man.”
— Mike S. Ryan