THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012)
DIRECTOR: James Watkins
STARRING: Daniel Radcliff, Jane McTeer, Ciarán Hinds
I’ll be honest, I was slightly put off in going to see this film due to two main factors.
I don’t really like Daniel Radcliff as an actor. Even when he was in the Harry Potter films, he didn’t rate highly in my opinion. Plus, from the trailer, it looked like he was still playing Harry Potter.
My understanding of Hammer films was the slightly cheesy films that were re-run late at night on the telly. So the fact the newly resurrected film studio was producing it, didn’t fill me with confidence.
Though I still don’t really care for Daniel Radcliff, I’m glad to say that this film is a wonderful example of how to produce a gothic tale with very little gore and a lot of chills.
The film opens with three young girls playing in the attic of an Edwardian house. Suddenly, as one they abandon their game and open a window before jumping to their deaths. The blood curdling scream, of what I could only assume came from their mother is heard before we cut to Daniel Radcliff’s character, Arthur Kipps.
Arthur is a lawyer who is still grieving over the loss of his wife during the birth of their son. He is given one last chance to prove himself and go to the remote village of Cryphin Gifford to put the affairs in order of a recently deceased woman named Mrs. Drablow at Eel Marsh House.
It is in this village that a number of deaths involving the local children keep occurring. The village is living in fear and you get a real sense of the sorrow that the inhabitants are living through. Nothing is really explained, but as soon as Arthur mentions Hill House, you see the terror take over the villagers faces.
To be honest, this film wasn’t overly scary. I’ve ready and seen many horror stories written about this time. I know the basic bones of the story and the fact that it is usually centred around that creepy house no one dares set foot near. Yet, what is great about the film is the cinematography. The fact that the camera is focused on Radcliff, but you just see at the top of the screen something move or what looks like a figure, makes it very atmospheric and certainly kept me on my toes looking for movement.
The director has cleverly made use of shadows and mirrors in order to ramp up the tension. The make-up and special effects, though pretty simplistic compared to the use of CGI in other horror movies, allows your mind to paint an altogether more gruesome image.
What I also liked about this film was how the usual solution to putting a vengeful spirit to rest didn’t have the desired outcome. Yet, it wasn’t a completely bleak conclusion to the film either.
My main criticism of the film is the casting of Radcliff. I know that it will be difficult for him to shake off the shackles of Harry Potter, but for me he just isn’t convincing enough to have been married with a son. There is very little to really stretch him as an actor or to display any real acting skills. I’m not sure if this is due to the source material or if it’s down to theediting. All I do know is that he didn’t really stand out in this film.
The saving grace is the actual set-up and execution of the film. The real star is the non-entity, “The Woman in Black”. She is vengeful and terrifying. The Woman in black cares not for class. All she wants is vengeance and for others to feel her pain.
Having looked on IMDB.com, I noticed that they are making a sequel. It will be interesting to see how they will progress with the story.
Overall I really did enjoy the film and I look forward to seeing what the studio does next. It is great to see lottery money being used to fund this type of project. It also shows that a movie doesn’t have to resort to lots of blood and violence to be really chilling. The unstoppable entity is one of the most unsettling villains in film. THE WOMAN IN BLACK is a force to be reckoned with.