The Good, The Bad & The Inexcusable
Frightfest has become the largest and most successful event of its kind in Europe, and has scored more hits than misses this year. We’re now four days in and I’m burning out, although mercifully Chinatown is around the corner so we can hit the dim sum trail between ordeals. I’ve been avoiding the director Q&As (too much like my old job) but perhaps I should have stayed to hear Lucky McKee’s justification for a film called ‘The Woman’, which struck me as the most nihilistic and pointless exercise in misogyny ever created under the guise of art-statement film.
Co-written with Jack Ketchum, a writer who specialises in showing the fundamental mean-spiritedness of American society, telling the same story over and over again, it’s about a supposedly decent family man who finds a ‘wild girl’ living in the woods. The husband imprisons her in the family basement, where she is abused by the father and son until she fights back. A daughter is already pregnant with her father’s baby, and the wife is regularly beaten. A visiting school teacher is fed to wild dogs.
Annoyingly, it’s too well-made a film to simply dismiss, but neither McKee nor Ketchum are up to making their points with any intellectual lucidity, and the result plays as a grotesque, sour-spirited and gruelling experience. Worse, it confirms the world’ worst fears about broken US society, and will probably encourage hatred and mistrust.
Before the film began, McKee warned the audience that they would be scared – but the film is not remotely scary, just depressing and symptomatic of a deep malaise in Hollywood film-making.
Onward, though – ‘Fright Night’ turned out to be a pleasant surprise, ramping up at the midway point to divert from the original (although you really don’t need to see it in rather shoddy 3D), and there’s actual acting from David Tennant and Colin Farrell, who turn in sexy, charismatic performances. Two days and lots more dim sun to go!