8. The Woman – 2011 (Lucky McKee)
The Woman is quite nearly unwatchable at times, which I suppose is a testament to how effective it is. In the film, a small town attorney (Sean Bridgers) goes hunting and finds a carnivorous, completely feral woman bathing in a body of water. On the spot he decides to capture her and reintegrate her into society, and if that decision sounds weird to you, that’s the tipoff.
The Woman cannot speak any language, is capable of incredible violence, and has liberal eating habits to say the least. But the family that captures her is even more monstrous. The woman are abused and cowed into silence, and the men are sexist, hateful creatures. The Woman becomes a symbol of raw femininity as the men beat, torment and rape her in an attempt to get her to conform to their idea of a woman, in a perverse battle of wills. It turns out as well as you think it does.
The Woman is explicit horror done well, although the family scenes are more uncomfortable than any other part of the movie. The father and son play smiling psychopaths that get worse as the movie continues. Horror is usually okay with violence towards women, but movies like this that flip the script aren’t tolerated as well.
9. The Orphanage – 2007 (J.A. Bayona)
The Orphanage is a Spanish film, which means that it’s pretty much doomed as Americans don’t like subtitles. Generally this means a crappy remake will get made and there’s a lot of potential for this to go wrong, as the plot involves the ghost of a deformed kid with a sack over his head, haunting an abandoned orphanage.
I wish that’s what this film was about, because the twist in the film is actually worse than that.
The most I will say about this film is that it concerns an orphan looking keep the place she grew up in open. She brings her family, including her small child. But the orphanage has a lot of history, and none of it is what you think.
As far as a movie that keeps you guessing, this is it. As far a movie that understands how and when to use violence, this is it. And far as an ending that will make you lose sleep, this is it. But it’s a foreign film, so two years from now when it stars Blake Lively and features a masked killer with an ax, you can look at this page and sigh with me.