Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Woman In Black

Year: 2012
Director: James Watkins
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White

Plot: Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer and single father to a four year old boy, travels to a remote village to examine the estate papers of a recently deceased couple. However, upon arrival at their abandoned home, he encounters paranormal occurrences and visions of a woman dressed in black, which is then followed by unexplained deaths of children in the village.

Review: The Woman In Black is officially Daniel Radcliffe's first movie after the end of the Harry Potter franchise. It's essentially a horror flick which is considerably darker than the Potter films.

The year the film is set is not given, but judging from the look of it, it's probably early 20th century. Radcliffe plays a lawyer who is behind on his finances and is warned by his boss on improving his work quality. He is sent to a remote village where the folks act strange and unfriendly to him, except for Sam Daily, the only man with a car in the village. His task is to visit the abandoned home of a deceased couple, on an island in the marsh, to examine any documents they may have left behind regarding their estate. Once there however, strange things start happening, the mysterious woman in black shows herself, and kids start dying. The question is why?

I'll give props to the production designer and cinematographer for their fine work on the film's look. The entire place has an eerie feel to it, and even when it's broad daylight, it feels cold and dead at the same time. The camerawork is also great, from the long range shots of the house from the air, to the dark corners of the house's interiors. It makes the audience feel scared enough to not want to be in Radcliffe's shoes.

However, director James Watkins doesn't quite bring anything new to the table. The strange encounters with the evil spirit brings to mind many other familiar horror films such as The Ring and Insidious. It's so similar, from the execution to the concept of the film. Watkins also uses plenty of cheap shocks to scare the audience, some which work well, but most of them are rather repetitive. Even the ending of the film is much too predictable.

Radcliffe though does a decent job in his first lead role away from the boy wizard. It's obvious here that he has grown up, but he still seems too young to be a father to a four year old boy. An actor five years older than him would have been more appropriate for the role. Ciaran Hinds lends some good support as Sam Daily, but the film is mostly Radcliffe's show.

To be fair, The Woman In Black is a decent horror flick, which you may like if you fancy jump scares. If you want something more, try the other films I mentioned earlier. (3/5)

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