Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Woman in Black - QC Review

Directed by: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes
Release Date: February 3, 2012

Daniel Radcliffe is apparently all grown up.

"The Woman in Black" is your typical haunted house story with a giant spooky house, scary locals, a cursed town and a very determined ghost. But don't let that dissuade you because this is an extremely well made and effective little bit of classic horror filmmaking. Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps (fresh off the set of "Harry Potter") as a recently widowed father who must travel to a small British town to sell a mansion that seems like the poster child for all cursed homes, the film with its authentic and refreshing early 1900s decor, is one of those rare horror movies that doesn't hit its audience over the head with cheap scares and parlor tricks.  It lets the bleak setting and oppressive atmosphere seep in and take control so that when the scares do happen they feel earned and appropriately unsettling.

Sporting one of the more interesting locales for a haunted house in recent memory, the mansion sits at the center of a vast marshlands that has all routes to it cut off whenever the tide rolls in, the film does its setting justice by building the tension and its somewhat contrived but effective story in a very slow and methodical manner. Surprisingly, there is a good amount of time spent outside the house during the early portions of the film which introduces the audience to the all the locals, most of whom are not too happy with Arthur's arrival. All the visits to the town that Arthur makes only adds to the mystery surrounding this cursed community which becomes increasingly hostile towards him once the local children begin dying in mysterious fashions that they believe are directly linked to his staying in that old mansion somehow.

It seems he has traded his wand for something a little more practical.

The mystery of the movie is of course at the center of things but it is Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role who must carry the film since he must spend so much time stuck in that mansion all by himself.
He does an adequate enough job in the role of a distraught father and tortured soul which was clearly chosen by the former wizard to help distance himself as far as possible from his association with Hogwarts. It's not an easy task for any actor who has portrayed an iconic role to be seen as anything but that character (especially after playing the same role for over a decade), but Radcliffe proves here that he is more than capable of tackling more adult oriented material . About the only criticism anyone could lay towards his performance is that he is asked to do little more than wander around looking in corners and sifting through a ton of photos and paperwork most of the time which doesn't give him much to do other than react to things that happen around him. But those are the conceits of the genre which he cannot be held accountable for.

While not the best horror movie to come along recently (that honor belongs to Insidious), "The Woman in Black" is the perfect film for anyone who likes to feel shivers go down their spine instead of being shocked by copious amounts of blood and gore. Its setting is both moody and effective, features a solid performance from star Daniel Radcliffe and has a good follow through with an ending that is satisfying, surprisingly intelligent and fitting. This is an easy recommendation for any horror fan on the lookout for something other than your usual Hollywood offerings. It takes its time to get where its going but the road there is just as captivating as the destination itself.

That is one creepy house.





Unknown said...

I love shivers from a good ghost story, and this is the first one I've seen come out in a long time that I felt was worthy. Radcliff sure took the role of Arthur Kibbs and ran with flying colors. I had the unique pleasure of watching “The Woman in Black” on a business trip for Dish, long before I knew anything about Dan’s performance in Harry Potter; I really enjoy seeing actors claim a role regardless of what they have done before. The Women in Black is an entirely different entity with fantastic cinematography, and wonderful acting from the whole cast. Since I am on Dish Online constantly, especially when I’m traveling, I look forward to seeing the second movie when it comes out; I’m anxious to see what happens with Arthur’s afterlife; nasty, vindictive witch.

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