SMHS grad Baker a part of one of Sundance’s most talked about films

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Carlee Baker is no stranger to making movies. She was part of a demonic brood in “Wicked Lake,” after all, but with a role in “The Woman,” she and her castmates got to experience bona-fide, boffo Hollywood buzz. The film generated a bit of controversy and a lot of talk and hopefully that will translate in box office for the film later this year.

“The Woman,” is based on a novel by Jack Ketchum. The story is about a man who finds a feral woman living in the woods behind his country home. Through a series of harrowing encounters he and his family quickly discover there is more to this woman than anyone would suspect and that sometimes the devil wears a handsome face. The film is directed by Lucky McKee and Baker, a Starr’s Mill graduate (2003), plays a young, idealistic teacher who becomes concerned when one of her students starts withdrawing and behaving differently in class.

“I try to get her to confide in me, and when that doesn’t work, I decide to take matters into my own hands,” stated Baker.

The first screening of “The Woman” at Sundance is part of what generated so much buzz for the film. Following the screening, there was to be a question and answer period with the director and cast and one man, for all intents and purposes, flipped out.

“The first screening was a circus. It was all very overwhelming and confusing and emotions were running high all-around,” Baker said. “I think that certain audience members were unprepared for the grittiness of the film, and one man in particular just found himself in an emotional place he didn’t know how to control, so he lashed out in a way that didn’t make much sense.”

A screaming man wasn’t exactly what the cast and filmmakers were looking for in a way of a reaction, but when the blogosphere, social networks and trade papers began talking about the screening, it became clear that no publicity is bad publicity.

“It’s actually a really strong testament to the kind of art we all created together. If you can get a bunch of talented people together and make a film that causes someone to completely lose control of their emotions, that’s kind of amazing,” Baker continued.

She added that there were three more screenings after the first one, and they were all very positive and well-received by the audiences.

“The film was really embraced by the Sundance moviegoers, and applauded for its intensity and strength,” Baker said.

The cast and crew was tight to begin with. They made the film working in four, six-day weeks and all stayed together in a boarding school in Turner’s Falls out in Western Massachusetts.

“It was great to stay in the school instead of the traditional hotel rooms, so we really had a chance to bond off-set as well,” Baker said. “It was like awesome adult summer camp.”

“The Woman” is in the process of being sold and all involved hope it finds a wide theatrical release.

“There is definitely a lack of smart horror in theatres lately, and I think a film that caters to a more intelligent crowd would be really well received, even in smaller markets,” Baker said. “The genre has been so oversaturated with torture-porn and PG-13 slasher flicks, it would be very cool to breathe some new life into it.”

Baker stated she enjoyed working on every film she has been in because acting is a job she loves, but she praised her experience on “The Woman.”
“It’s a low-budget film, but the creative team both in front of and behind the scenes was really something special. It was the most satisfying project I’ve worked on to date,” Baker said. “There’s an overwhelming amount of heart that went into this film, and it really shows on the screen.”

Baker hopes to be shooting another horror movie this spring, “Alluvial,” and just did an episode of a show for Cinemax called “Femme Fatales.”
“I play a really evil lady in it,” Baker said.

Her experience at Sundance was certainly something she will remember for a long time – it isn’t every day when movie bloggers talk about the group of women in the cast surrounding their director to protect him from an outraged viewer – but Baker was thrilled to soak everything in and kick off what she hopes is a wonderful year for her career.