High-brow Torture Porn is Still Torture Porn in The Woman

Pretentious muddle trumps splattery satire in this high-minded indie button-pusher, which is only fleetingly as transgressive as its infamous Sundance-screening walkout might suggest. (That incident, a video of which is all over the Net, seems at least half-staged anyway.) Picking up where 2009’s dopey The Offspring left off, The Woman follows a feral, cannibalistic female (Pollyanna McIntosh, whose character is apparently tame enough to shave her armpits) as she’s captured and imprisoned by douchey suburban lawyer and family man Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers). Things go pretty much where you’d expect from there, with Cleek’s cowed wife (Angela Bettis) and horny son (Zach Rand) playing along, and his daughters (Lauren Ashley Carter and Shyla Molhusen) bonding with their captive from a safe distance. Co-screenwriters Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum aim for insights into the easily ruptured veneer of civilized gender relations and occasionally hit their mark: The arrogant, sloppy charm masking Cleek’s psychopathic misogyny is nicely played by Bridgers, and his first encounter with the wild woman is satisfying as both gore and metaphor. But even with a nauseous climax, The Woman never gets under the skin, and its artsy-languid pacing and incessant lite-metal commentary tunes finally seem like part of an effort to disguise what it really is: torture porn for people who’d never admit to liking torture porn.

 
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