The Skin I Live In
Texas Killing Fields
Christopher Cleek (Sean Bridgers) lives on the countryside with his docile wife (Angela Bettis) and three kids, Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter), Brian Cleek (Zach Rand) and Darlin’ (Shyla Molhusen). When he spots a feral woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) near his home, Christopher he decides to hold her captive in an attempt to domesticate her. Throughout the process, he tortures her while struggling to maintain his power and control over her—as well as his own family.
The screenplay by writer/director Lucky McKee and co-writer Jack Ketchum blends the genres of horror, thriller and drama in a way that’s surprisingly effective when it comes to maintaining suspense and creepiness. While there’s some icky gore to be found, especially in the messy, over-the-top third act, much of the acts of violence occur off-screen thereby allowing you to actually use your imagination—a sadly under-utilized tool in most horror films nowadays. Just when you think The Woman will go all out into torture porn territory, it, fortunately, pulls back a little to focus on the dynamics between the Cleek family members each of whom are quite interesting characters. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s just the right amount of comic relief to offset the dark tones of the film.
The woman plays with Christopher’s emotions as much as she plays with your emotions as an audience member. You might find yourself feeling a modicum of pity or even sympathy toward her because of the sadistic ways that Christopher treats her. The real guilty pleasure here, though, comes from watching Pollyanna McIntosh give such a raw, brave performance in the titular role. Her performance not only invigorates that film, but also helps to make you feel disturbed and frightened on a visceral level.