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.