THE WOMAN + OFFSPRING / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: LUCKY McKEE, ANDREW VAN DEN HOUTEN / STARRING: POLLYANNA McINTOSH, SEAN BRIDGERS, ANGELA BETTIS, LAUREN ASHLEY CARTER / RELEASE DATE: 25TH MAY
Released in 2011, Lucky McKee's The Woman, based on a book by horror author Jack Ketchum, tells the story of the Cleek family's attempt to civilise a feral woman who had been found in the woods by controlling dad (and generally horrible human being), Chris. Eagerly aided by his son, little shit Brian, Chris' abuses of the woman – and indeed the entire female side of his family – become more and more extreme as his behaviour worsens and implications of his past indiscretions emerge. It's an uncomfortable but magnificent watch, with some particularly gut-wrenching moments and incredible performances (especially from Pollyanna McIntosh as the Woman, who is absolutely phenomenal), eventually climaxing in a thrillingly cathartic showdown between good (well, good-ish) and evil.
The themes tackled by The Woman caused a fair bit of controversy at the time, helping it to gain interest from the horror going public, but the film was viewed by many as a standalone product. Although its notoriety sees it take top billing on this release, The Woman was, in fact, a sequel to 2009's Offspring, another film based on one of Ketchum's books. Arrow Video have now bundled both films together, making Offspring available on Blu-ray for – as far as we're aware – the first time outside of the USA (officially, at least).
Filmed on a much lower budget which results in a decidedly old-school atmosphere, Offspring is certainly no less vicious and savage than its successor. Introducing us to the Woman and her nomadic tribe of cannibals, it's a gory and unsettling tale that goes some way to explaining where the Woman came from. Sure, there are plot holes and inconsistencies, and you have to keep reminding yourself not to question the hows and whys of what's going on (not least, how come they figured how to make belts but not proper clothes, with most of the tribe choosing to leave all their bits and bobs flapping away in the breeze?), but it's still an enjoyably horrifying 80 minutes' worth of entertainment.
Arrow Video has become known for the amount of effort they put into their releases, and this is no exception. Both films have gone through the 4K restoration process so everything looks sharper and brighter than ever before, and there's plenty of new content for returning fans to sink their teeth into. The inclusion of Offspring and its related extras is extremely welcome indeed, and there's a wealth of archive material from previous releases. Also included are multiple brand new audio commentaries on both films, along with new interviews with the cast and crew, extensive behind the scenes footage (the 75-minute “fly on the wall” documentary by Lucky McKee's dad is tremendous!) and, as always, Arrow's famed reversible artwork and collector's booklet. The only thing that could possibly make this set even better would be if the third film in the series – 2019's Darlin', had been included (it's mentioned in the extras so its omission is a bit of an odd one), but that's a minor gripe when you consider how excellent the rest of the package is. A must-buy for all horror fans!
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