Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Review Rating: 7.5
A sadistic lawyer discovers a feral woman in the woods and brings her home for “civilization lessons” with his family.
Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) is a very sick man. He looks like your typical country lawyer with a happy family: wife, older daughter, middle son, youngest daughter, big house, woods to hunt in, the works. Yet we can tell, right from the get-go, that there’s something very wrong with all members of the family except for, perhaps, the youngest girl. Wife Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter) is this cowed little thing in flowered aprons who takes every last thing Chris does to her and the children without so much as a word uttered in protest. We clearly see why, when she dares ask Chris if his bringing the Woman home to the basement is a good idea, she gets a casual slap across the jaw while Chris is brushing his teeth preparing for bed. Son Brian (Zach Rand) is all eager to follow in his fathers evil footsteps, and as anyone could’ve guessed, takes to torturing the Woman as soon as he can possibly get away with it. Oldest daughter Belle (Angela Bettis) has taken to acting like Mother, cowed and quiet, and of course her meddling school teachers noticed changes in her actions and appearance to lead her to suspect that Belle’s *gasp* pregnant. Any guesses as to who the father could be? And the youngest, Darlin (Shyla Molhusen), I would guess it’s only her tender age that’s spared her so far from her families wrath. She does play her kiddie stereo in sympathy for the poor lady tied up in the cellar.
Not a thing is mentioned about where the Woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) came from, how she ended up as a savage in the forest, and why she still apparently knows how to talk at least a little. There seems to be some evidence that at some point she was with other people, but the story concentrates much more on Chris and his family than her. So Chris, while terrorizing his family as effectively as any psycho can, goes out hunting and discovers the existence of the Woman. Of course he wants that. The “civilization lessons” he gives his family as reasons for taking her and stringing her up in the cellar is just a line, we the audience all know it’s just a matter of time before he takes his pleasure with her. Chris loses his ring finger in the first bout with the Woman, and the irony isn’t lost on me. For the cleaning of her person, Chris sends Brian off to feed those damn dogs that just won’t shut up, and insists on making his wife help as they scrub her with extremely hot water and then take a high pressure hose to her bare skin. Peggy is forced to sew clothing for the Woman that ends up making her look like a polygamist wife, as Chris points out, but at this point she does look at least somewhat human. And only then does Chris do what we all knew he was planning on doing in the first place, while Brian watches from a peephole he made. Soon after this it all begins to go horribly wrong, when a wanting-to-be-helpful teacher of Belle’s comes to her fathers house to discuss Belle’s troubles with her family, and is likely to get the Woman’s treatment for her troubles. Right before the teacher shows, Peggy finally told Chris she’s finally had it and is going to leave him, and we can all guess what she gets for her troubles. Chris is determined to deal with every single last troublesome female around him in his unique way. What he didn’t count on, was Belle setting the Woman loose. What she does to Chris in righteous if bloody retribution is just fine with me, though I did feel a bit bad for Peggy in the bargain. Brian, well, like his father he had it coming. The secret of the dog pen I will leave for the movie, but believe me, it’s a dilly. And that leaves us with Belle and Darlin, to follow the Woman back to the woods and whatever kind of life waits for them there.
There is something to be said for horror found in everyday modern settings, where one would least expect it. With bright vivid colors in broad daylight and misplaced background music to soften the sick, we’re treated to shrieks of death and steaming viscera spraying blood. Monstrous things sometimes wear the most familiar masks, and on occasion the savage woman can overcome the civilized man. This is a movie Jack Ketchum wrote, after all, that should tell you all right there.