Bad Bitches of Horror #1: THE WOMAN

Bad Bitches of Horror #1: THE WOMAN

*Spoilers ahead*

What makes us civilized? In a post-Enlightenment western society, one might say it is our ability to create and conform to socially beneficial laws based on a belief humanity is endowed with inalienable natural rights. A “civilized” person probably holds a job, provides for their family, and has a network of personal and professional relationships. These webs we weave connect us all to one another and drive us to maintain order and stability. Without civilization, what are we? Hobbes might call us savages-- perpetually at war against all others, without any sense of time, art, or letters, and leading solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short lives.[1]

THE WOMAN (2011), directed by Lucky McKee and based on Jack Ketchum’s novel of the same name, seeks to challenge our notions of civilization and savagery. The titular woman is feral and living in the woods near an average rural family—an attorney and his stay at home wife with their three children. The father, Chris, finds the woman and takes her to his home, where he chains her up in the cellar and determines to civilize her. Over the course of the film, Chris and his son participate in raping and abusing the Woman as his wife, Belle, grows increasingly horrified but does nothing to stop them. Toward the end of the film, Belle threatens to leave with the couples’ two daughters, and is knocked unconscious by Chris. Still later, a teacher comes to the family’s house and informs Chris one of his daughters is pregnant, revealing Chris’ sadism effects his entire family. The teacher is placed in a cage with dogs and still another girl whose eyes have been gauged out. The film ends with the Woman attacking and killing Chris, Belle, and their son, before going back into the woods with the two daughters and the eyeless girl, presumably taking them in as her own family.

THE WOMAN is brutal but extraordinarily empowering. It takes a seemingly innocuous fixture in society—the nuclear family—and rips away the façade of civility, exposing the darkest extent of patriarchal abuse. You see, if without law we are savages, with law we are only savages under a social contract. It is better to be a free feral woman than held hostage by “civilized” men.

[1] Hobbes, Thomas, and C. B. Macpherson. Leviathan. London: Penguin, 2003.

Bad Bitches of Horror #2: ALIEN

Bad Bitches of Horror #2: ALIEN

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