Film reviews

The Woman (2011) / Offspring (2009) – Review

We take a look at popular 2011 horror film The Woman and its lesser known 2009 predecessor Offspring, as Arrow Films brings them together on Blu-ray for the first time, in a new Limited Edition set. Warning: contains spoilers.

The Woman is a film that I’d heard of long before I’d watched it, and was one that I’d seen a lot of horror fans discussing when it first came out; usually talking about how disturbing it is. It centres of the Cleek family, who live in a large farmhouse on the edge of the woods. When the father Chris (Sean Bridgers) discovers a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) living in the woods he decides to capture her, chain her up in his barn, and civilise her.

Whilst the woman is supposed to be a cannibalistic killer, which is seen a lot more in Offspring, I can’t say that I can really class her as the villain of The Woman. This isn’t a film about a family who end up having to try and survive a feral killer, but a story about one twisted man’s hatred of women, and desire to abuse people.

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Chris Cleek rules his family with an iron fist. His wife is a quiet and meek woman, who gets beaten, he berates his son for not doing well enough, whilst seemingly grooming to become an abuser himself, and his eldest daughter is hiding a pregnancy that the film indicates he’s responsible for. Chris is the very real monster in this film, and that helps to make it all the more disturbing. Having a feral cannibal woman chained up in your barn might not be an experience many can identify with, but being stuck in an abusive home certainly is.

The film doesn’t tip its hand though, it very slowly draws you in by making you think this is a normal family and that Chris is a nice guy. Before you know it though it’s clear he’s a violent abuser, but by then it’s too late. Like being in an abusive relationship the film shows you a nice front before it hits you the brutal reality.

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Things do take a more open, horror turn by the gory end, but by then it feels more like a relief, because it breaks the mounting tension that has built within the Cleek home. Whilst the abusers of the film do get their comeuppance it doesn’t feel like a victory, and it left me feeling depressed by the time the credits rolled. It wasn’t a bad film because of this, but it’s not a fun type of horror film; it’s a film that you need to be in the right mood for because of the constant sense of oppression and sadness that seems to permeate its entirety.

Offspring, by contrast, feels a lot more like what you’d expect from a cannibal horror movie. The film is less oppressive, and there are very clear distinctions between the heroes and villains. There are good people who fall victim to the woman’s feral family, and you root for them to survive. The cops are there to try and save the women and children, and the douche-bag ex-husband is a dick and gets what he deserves before the end.

It’s what I would expect from a film like this, it ticked all the boxes and didn’t really try to do anything different or special, so didn’t stand out to me as particularly great. That’s a note that falls much more on the shoulders of The Woman.

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The set offered by Arrow Films is an interesting one, as it’s got a fairly standard, almost forgettable movie, and one that’s going to affect you a lot more and stick with you for longer. It certainly makes for an interesting study in how the series changed from one film to the next though, and makes for an engaging comparison between the two.

The Blu-ray also comes with a host of extras for each film, including multiple commentaries for each film, including newly recorded ones, cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes making-of’s, webisodes, and deleted scenes. Sadly, I was only provided with a screener for the movies, so didn’t get a chance to see these extras, but I’d definitely be interested to learn more about the films and their making, and think that the extras on offer here sound like they’d definitely scratch that itch.

The Woman + Offspring is out now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

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