The Woman in Black
During the final scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part Two) there was a great deal of sniggering as prosthetically aged Daniel Radcliffe offered some sage wisdom to his young son. Skip forward six months and the prosthetics can go fuck themselves as Daniel Radcliffe just stubbles up a little bit to play Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer with a big problem. This adaptation of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, directed by Eden Lake helmsman James Watkins, is a reinvigoration, both for gothic ghost stories in general and for the resurrected Hammer studios.
Radcliffe’s lawyer is sent to Eel Marsh House on a mission to discover the death details of one of his firm’s clients. It’s his last chance, he’s a widower and he has a young son. That’s where the plot clichés start (inhospitable locals, creepy children and psychopathic dolls ahoy!) but there’s something about the production that makes them feel more than right; they feel necessary. This is a Victorian ghost story for the 21st century, taking an iconic young actor, putting him in a haunted house and then scaring the shit out of him for 90 minutes.
There’s plenty to be afraid of in The Woman in Black and the 12a certificate is somewhat misleading. There are plenty of jumps, especially in an unrelenting half an hour sequence where Radcliffe investigates the source of the disturbances in the house. There’s an overreliance on a subtle visual movement and then a MASSIVE ORCHESTRAL CUE but, overall, the scares were genuinely frightening and people were screaming in the aisles. The colour correction also does wonders (when coupled with Tim Maurice-Jones’ dark cinematography) as the crushed blacks produce shadows on the actors’ faces that mirror the shadows in the film. Dark things are happening on screen, so don’t go in expecting Philosopher’s Stone- this is Deathly Hallows and some.
A detailed and atmospheric production that runs to an old fashioned formula but produces scares that the Paranormal Activity franchise would kill for.
|Title:||The Woman in Black|
|Starring:||Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarin Hinds, Local Yokels|
|Certificate:||A very scary 12a|
|Running Time:||Less than 2 hours|