The Woman in Black

Set in the early 1900s, “The Woman in Black” is the story of a young lawyer, played by Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe, who is facing financial and emotional difficulties. He is sent by his firm to travel to the countryside and settle the estate of a recently deceased woman.

Upon his arrival, he is greeted with a great deal of reticence and hostility from the locals of the town. Undaunted, he proceeds with his duties and travels to the secluded estate. It’s there that he discovers the towns terrible secret…

The manor has a ghostly inhabitant, and it’s a threat to the children of the town.

Radcliffe’s Arthur Kipps is a widower raising his infant son. His wife died giving birth to their child, and he is still struggling with his grief.  Meanwhile, he is also having difficulties with his financial situation. So this assignment is not one which he can afford to take lightly, which later serves to explain why he’s so dogged to satisfy the requirements of his task.

Upon arrival in the town, the locals treat him as if he’s a pariah. He is distinctly unwelcome. He perseveres, however, with the help of a local couple who lost their child years ago. It turns out that many of the children in the town are mysteriously prone to suicide. As Kipps explores the haunted mansion and discovers the spirit lurking within, he slowly pieces together the connection.

I dont want to say too much, because honestly, it’s not all that deep. LOL. There’s not that much of a buffer between “mild spoiler” and “complete retelling”. I’m sure that doesn’t speak well to the movie to read something like that, but it was a decent enough movie, I enjoyed many parts of it. It’s just certainly not a film that’s going to set any new standards or be remembered much beyond this year. There’s not a lot of originality, but it’s not poorly executed.

The main source of scares are the haunted house scenes. Radcliffe stays the night in the estate, and exploring a cobwebby old mansion by candlelight is bound to raise a few hairs on people’s necks. The movie is LOADED with jump scares and attempts at startling the audience, to the point where I wondered at one point if they were going to eventually try the DOUBLE startle. You know? GASP! ahhh GASP! LOL. They didn’t. But they did work in some fun ghost encounters and loaded the set with creepy looking china dolls and wind up toys. The overall “mystery” of the town wasn’t anything remarkable, but I suppose it was a decent enough structure to put a movie around.

I don’t know that the end “sticks the landing” 100%… but I wasn’t disappointed. I did think, like the rest of the film, it suffered from a bit of cliché.

Radcliffe did fine in his first significant non-Potter role. I wouldn’t say he was great or anything, but I do think he acquitted himself adequately. He definitely has the look for the part…. I don’t know what it is, but sometimes people just have a look that seems to fit into certain eras, you know? And Radcliffe seemed like a natural for the period.

On the whole, the film doesn’t break any new ground, and at times leans heavily on standard gimmicks of the haunted house horror movie sub-genre. But it was entertaining enough, and it had some creepy enough moments as a fun little horror film to make it worth checking out.

B-

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20 thoughts on “The Woman in Black

  1. I’m not much for horror, so I’ll probably skip this one. But I did want to comment on the Sharum Maximus picture. I love that you do that, and actually just looked at some other posts and notice that you do a different one for each film. At some point you should do a gallery of the best of these.

  2. Saw the movie and, at first, was a little disappointed in it. However, after thinking back on it, and reading your description of it, I’m appreciating it more. You are so right about Radcliffe looking the part. Good review !!

  3. Saw it and loved it. There were some flaws but the mood and tone were great. I just wish filmmakers would stop the practice of “”false scares” but having animals or birds suddenly jump into the scene. The handprint on the window scene was great. Not a bad effort. I give this an 8.

    • I guess the biggest problem I had with it is it didn’t offer anything new. It was fine, but it seemed as though it was a regurgitation of other films.

      And this film was SERIOUSLY jump scare happy. Although the handprint one was very good, for sure.

  4. I was curious about this movie. I mean, the trailer is pretty creepy. I’ve always thought children made the most creepiest ghosts ever. A “B-” is pretty high grade for a horror movie, so that’s a good sign.

    • It’s definitely pretty creepy at times… there’s a few really creepy scenes in there for sure.

      I guess I hear you about horror flicks, that they’re prone to lower grades. That might be true. I like horror flicks though, so if I come across a good one I wouldnt be afraid to give it a great grade… this was kind of just decent. To me…

  5. I think its cool Radcliffe is trying to get beyond Harry and though not a fan of horror it sounds like acquitted himself well. Be interesting to see his choices on the next few!

    • Definitely. This flick wasn’t a bad choice. I dont think its going to be massively successful or anything, but apparently the opening weekend was good and it’s at least “fresh” on rotten tomatoes (62%). He didnt do too bad for himself here, either. None of the faults with the film I had were on him, really…

  6. I’ll have to check this out for some mindless entertainment. I’m interested to see Radcliffe in it, as I’ve never seen him in anything other than Potter. Seems strange to think of him as a heartbroken widower…

    Great review as always!

  7. I like my horror/ghost films and I remember the first trailer of this really giving me the creeps. I’m not a Potter/Radcliffe fan, but i like the look of this. Though … still waiting for some film to really creep me out.

  8. You are right. it was loaded with several cliche moments and plot points. I, like you, was not disappointed with the ending. I was watching it and said to myself “Please don’t let this end with the hollywood happy go lucky ending.” When it ended I felt better about the film overall.

    nothing new, but told quite well. Glad you gave it the same score as I did!

    • Yeahhhh… its always nice to see eye to eye with a score or a review isnt it?

      The end was ok… it just wasn’t anything like, awesome or anything. I cant see ever owning this flick on DVD for any reason…

  9. . Just caught this one on cable. I really liked it. It did its part by being a really good suspense flick. It’s been a long time since I was at the edge of my seat watching a horror flick. I read your review on it and even though I agree with some of your comments, I still think it was a great flick. Yes it did have some cliché moments going on but it also had a lot of creepy parts going on. The fact that they used children added a major creepy feeling to the film. Especially since I’m a dad myself and can put myself in the place of the village people. Feeling their agony if I was to lose a child. I also liked the haunted house bit located in the middle of no ware and the cheesy grave yard on the island. I have a lot that I liked about the flick and it kept me entertained for an hour and half. I would have graded this one a lot higher. Most of the horror flicks that I see these days, I’m just bored. You are right that this has been done before, but really the film industry is running out of ideas for the horror suspense theme.

    • Yeah, maybe I should have bumped it half a grade. I dont know, its been awhile since I saw it, but when I clicked back to see the grade I gave it, a B- seemed a little low.

      It’s honestly not that great a film.I just think they threw a lot of jump scares at people and borrowed on the “creepy house in the dark” theme a lot.

      Youre right though, I suppose Hollywood is running out of ideas. But… thats why I reserve the really high grades for those movies that find them! :D

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