TME Review: The Woman in Black

Posted: February 2, 2012 by tmepost in Movies, Reviews
Tags: , , ,

Review By David Burrola

Release: February 3, 2012

Run time: 95 minutes

Director: James Watkins

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciaran Hinds

A young lawyer heads to a remote estate for his firm, where he encounters a vengeful spirit that terrorizes the small town near.

This is a straight up old school horror movie. It doesn’t use any gimmicks like most modern horror movies do, such as being entirely shot in a handheld camera or with surveillance cameras, it’s just using older styles to generate its scares and with modern tools.

Originally a novel that was also adapted into a very successful (and still running) stage play, this version is a different telling of the novel.

The film stars Daniel Radcliffe, who’s predominant on screen. Really, he’s front and center damn near the whole film, and while ghost stories with a singular actor being on screen the whole time is not uncommon, it’s certainly been a while since I’ve seen one like this that wasn’t shot like it was a home video-Of Terror!

We start with Arthur Kipps leaving his son to go on a business trip to settle the estate of an estranged widow in a small town. Of course, his estate is a big mansion that sits outside of the town across a marsh, which gets completely cut off from the rest of the town by a high tide. A perfect set up for spookiness. All the while he’s trying to get to the house, people seem to not want him there and try to keep him from the house altogether. Determined to finish the job, as his own hangs on this, he proceeds to the house, and hauntings ensue as he uncovers the truth behind the haunting and the town’s terror.

The effects in this are minimal and lower budget it would seem, but are used very well, and not just the filmmakers gorging over how much mad computer science they can throw at the visuals. This is more in a Hitchcock manner in which each shot is used to tell what’s going on and set you up for a scare. Of course, most of these shots are just Arthur cautiously moving from hallway to room and other areas of the manor. In fact he doesn’t have as many speaking lines considering he spends most of it in terror of the ghost and other happenings. Still, he carries the film in that regard without a hitch and it’s good to see Radcliffe in something else after Harry Potter (last mention of that).

What makes this predictable also seems to be strength of it. While we know many of the things are coming, it’s shot well, and doesn’t linger on the things that would draw attention to something that’s obviously an effect. When we see certain things it’s usually just enough to let us know something is coming, or to just outright creep you out. Which ‘The Woman in Black’ does well. The atmosphere is fantastic and grim, and we get a good look at the plight and fear of the towns folk and eventually why they don’t want Arthur there.

Overall, if you’re more of a fan of modern horror movie styles, this is probably just a matinee for you. But if you really like those old school kinds of horror films without gimmicks and just good film making then spend an evening with this one. And if you’re a fan of Daniel Radcliffe(you are), then you should watch it… unless creepy lady’s in all black that you can’t quite see fully scare the pants off of you, then you might want to watch something else.


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