Carl the Critic: Reviews "The Woman in Black"

"The Woman in Black" Trailer

Experience/Expectations

Oh Daniel Radcliffe, how have you grown. Starting off in T.V. movies like "David Copperfield", moving into major box-office franchises like "Harry Potter", your unforgettable Broadway performances in "Equus" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", and now you are in your first ever horror film, (with the exception of "December Boys" but that one doesn't really count). I wasn't sure what to think of Daniel Radcliffe the first time I saw him in the cinema about 10 years ago, but over the years I admired his acting, and saw potential for the next Leonardo DiCaprio, a child actor turned super star. Now that he has a horror film under his belt it just makes me love him even more, but what horror film are we talking about?

Story

Based on a novel by Susan Hill, the story is based on a legend about a woman who wears a Technicolor dream coat made of sunshine, lollipops, and the smiles of little babies’ faces... What do you think it's about?

Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a widowed lawyer who is sent to the small village of... Sleepy Hollow... because it is his job to take care of some paper work on an old house that hasn't been lived in for a long time. Arthur goes to the house and sees a woman dressed in black outside standing in a marsh. Arthur then hears violent screams, and runs outside to investigate but finds nothing except the man who drove him up to the creepy house in the first place. He reports this to police, says he saw a woman, the cop treats Arthur as though he said something very important to the plot, and then leaves Arthur alone. Just then a two children bringing a girl who looks like she's about to die to the police station asks Arthur for help because this particular girl just had a drink of LYE and she dies in Arthur's arms. Arthur being the highly intelligent young man that he is, goes back to the house stays the entire night and learns about the horrible truth about the connection between the Woman in Black and the suicides of countless children.

Critique

There are some good and some bad things about this film that I found very note worthy. First of all, this is one of the best horror films that have been released in a long time. The pacing of the film starts off very slow, but then speeds up a touch as we are introduced to the central conflict of he movie. I have been interested in the work of director James Watkins, who has been proving to be one of the contemporary masters of horror which both this film and a film called "Eden Lake", which show how to cleverly balance story and horror/suspense.
The way the film produces some legitimate scares is with the clever use of camera angles, so that we never fully see the Woman in Black, or see her in focused until the very end. We see glimpses of her, or her silhouette from a distance, which make her very frightening. We hear strange noises, stinging music, and the film edits a scene quickly so that we see something scary for about half a second that makes the viewer go "Oh my God what was that!" This film has great elements of a scary ghost story, including a character whom we sympathies for, and seeing that character dealing with the insane reality of what is going on in this strange little town.

Now I'm going to talk about the bad stuff for a bit, because there are just a few things about this movie that many people may find annoying. For example, the film’s dialogue. The best parts of the movie were definitely the non-speaking parts; whenever a character opened their mouth they said something either stupid, or incomprehensible. There's a scene when Arthur is in a bog, covered in mud and crap and is yelling at his buddy about what he is planning to do, but I for one couldn't understand what he was saying, and then his buddy yelled, "Do be careful!" The only times when the dialogue was okay was when Arthur was talking to his son, but for the most part, Daniel Radcliffe's acting (as great as it was) had suffered a great deal due to the awful dialogue. The best actors were Arthur's dead wife (who doesn't ever speak), and the Woman in Black (because her dialogue consisted of screams).
Speaking of which, the movie does have a tendency to have screaming as a jump-scares, which for the first few times is scary, but then afterward becomes over used and boring. I would check my watch and go "scream happening in 3... 2... 1..." SCREAM! Granted this is a modern day Hammer horror film, so I can forgive the film for that.
I guess it's because I am just nit picking now, but I found the toys in the film to be extremely creepy. One could argue they are aged to show how much time has past but explain to me who would ever give their child a toy that when you wind it up looks it's having a seizure. There are also close ups of the toys that just make them even creepier, I wouldn't be surprised if the woman bought her child a "good guy doll" from the Child's Play Series, or Billy from "Saw".

Is this the best ghost story ever told? No "The Haunting" is, but this film is all right. It has legitimate scares, it's well presented, there are lots of creative camera shots through out the film, and the ending is one of the best I have ever seen.

Overall

"The Woman in Black" is worth at least checking out, I'm glad I went and I hope you will too. I give "The Woman in Black" an 8.6 out of 10.

What about you?

If you saw

See results without voting

Copyright

Carl the Critic © 2012 HubPages.com

More by this Author


21 comments

Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Hi Carl; Your review seems to agree with the critics who say that the non-speaking parts are the best scenes. I'm planning to see this film this weekend and I'll come back and tell you what i think.

Thanks for the review.

Rob


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Okay Rob Thank you very much :)


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

I saw it this weekend. I have to say I wasn't overly impressed. There were some good 'jump-scare' moments, and the film is daring in having kids die, but it could have been better. The director did a good job filming the house to make it seem like it was a menacing creature, but non of the performances from the real people impressed me too much.

A so-so film, with some merit. Not great, not terrible.

Rob


animewiccan725 profile image

animewiccan725 4 years ago from Larksville, PA

I actually saw this movie just yesterday and I agree. It was an absolutely amazing movie in my opinion, but it definitely could have has some better in regards to the dialogue. It's nice though to see a horror film that doesn't necessarily have to jump to blood and guts to get a reaction from the audience. I'm also glad to know that I'm not the only to notice that it looked like the one toy was having a seizure, and I'm almost positive that the clown that spun on its arms had the same laugh as Jigsaw from "Saw". Those toys were absolutely scary as all hell. Overall though I did love it though and would love to see it again. The ending was amazing.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

@Robwrite: I completely understand. I really enjoyed this film mainly because it is suppose to be based on the old fashioned Hammer Horror films, so I knew what to expect. Any one who goes into this with no expectations will have a 50/50 chance of really enjoying it. This film is a lot like Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow" which did the exact same thing (sort of). But thank you for your honesty, it's good that you gave it a chance :) Thanks again for the comment and insight, it's always great to hear from you.

@animewiccan725: lol I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought one of the toys looked like it was having a seizure as well, and you're right about the clown toy as well. It's a fun movie to watch if you are into Hammer Horror style movies and I also agree that it's refreshing to see a horror film that relies less on gore, nudity, and swearing, and more on the story, and actual horror. I would love to see it again too. Thanks for commenting great to hear from you:)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

Hmm.thats interesting. I had no idea that Daniel Radcliffe performed on broadway before. I'm glad to hear Daniel Radcliffe seems to be trying to branch out in his post "harry potter" acting career, but it's rather unfortunate that I probably won't see this film for a long time though, as I still have to see "A Cat in Paris", "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Tailor Tinker Soldier Spy" first, and review them before the Oscars. lol.

However, i'll definitely give this film a look though when it comes out on DVD or something, since you've convinced me to see to it. Thanks for the great write up Carl, as I always find myself learning new things from you. :)


animewiccan725 profile image

animewiccan725 4 years ago from Larksville, PA

@CarltheCritic1291 Your welcome!

@stevennix2001 Daniel Radcliffe actually performed part of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" during the Macy's New Year's Day Parade. I want to see "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" too. I've read all three books and seen all three original Swedish films, so I really want to see how Hollywood did with it.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

@Stevennix2001: I will be very interested in reading your review on this film when you write it. Knowing how you were not impressed with "Insidious", I have a feeling that you won't like this as well, but we'll see. I'm glad to see that you are enjoying reading my articles, as much as I enjoy reading yours. Thanks for the comment and stopping by :)

@animewiccan: I liked both versions of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" but the Swedish version is by far the superior film. Thanks again for stopping by :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

Well like you and "X-Men First Class", I was probably just going to watch it for my own amusement if anything else, but I'll write one if you're requesting a review from me. Although it might be a while though, as I still have to see the other movies I just mentioned first.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This looks terrifying. The previews are scary. Daniel Ratliff is really coming to age and it will be interesting to see what else he can do outside of Harry Potter. Great hub!


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

@Stevennix2001: LOL fair enough, thanks again for the comment :)

@Tammyswallow: It really is one of the scariest recent movies currently in theaters. But it's still a good movie and as mentioned before, it doesn't rely on an over use of gore or nudity. It's not the greatest ghost story ever told but still well made. Thanks for your comment it's greatly appreciated :)


Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

I was at B&N over the weekend and was tempted to read the novel. Your movie review is very nicely written, and I am tempted to see the movie. Do you ever read the novel before viewing the movie? Just curious.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Not usually, but sometimes I do (like "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", "Harry Potter", etc.) I might check out the novel when I get a chance, thanks for asking :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

Well Carl after reading your review, and finishing my oscar predictions ahead of schedule, i decided to review this movie anyway in spite of what i said earlier. lol. Besides, it was either this movie or "The Vow", so I choose this movie instead. lol. I have to say it's actually pretty good, as I don't know why you'd thought i would hate it.

However, i do appreciate you writing a review on this though, as i probably would've missed out on this movie completely. Thanks again for the heads up about it. :)


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

LOL Well I'm glad you saw it and liked it. The only real reason I assumed other wise was because it is similar to another supernatural thriller that you didn't like "Insidious" which was also arguably like a modern day Hammer Horror film. However I'm glad I was wrong, and I'm even happier that you decided to review it. Can't wait to read it. Thanks again for stopping by, and commenting :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

you really didn't read my review of "Insidious" a while back did ya? Carl, unlike most film critics, I don't judge movies based on genres, as I review each movie on it's own merit. I know i may have came off as biased in my "top ten worst films of 2011", but to be fair, I was trying to make it as humorous as possible, so i might have gotten carried away on that one.

however, if you've read my review on that film, i just simply didn't like it because it failed to be remotely scary. that was my biggest issue with "insidious." it had potential. however, most of it came off as laughable to the point that i could never buy into it, and the acting never really sold me on how scary the movie was.

don't get me wrong, i'm not saying it's the worst horror film of all time, as that would be a very big stretch. i just didn't care for it.

by the way, did you hear about the sequel that's in the works for "Insidious?" I just found out about it a few days ago.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

I did read your hub, and I know you never judge a movie based on its genre (no good film critic ever does that). However I just thought because you didn't like "Insidious" (which was made in a similar style as a Hammer horror film story/structure) you might not have found this film to be scary or interesting either. I know you never said that it was not the worst horror movie ever made, and that you didn't care for it, just thought that the feelings for that film (which was again made in the similar Hammer Horror movie style) might transcend into "The Woman in Black" which was made in the Hammer Horror film style. I apologize if I may have offended you, but I can assure you that I meant nothing by it. Thanks again for the comment.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

Nah, i wasn't offended by what you said, as I thought we were just talking. No worries. I do apologize if I gave you that impression though.


CynthiAnn profile image

CynthiAnn 4 years ago from Indiana

I thought it was a good movie. I honestly have to disagree and admit that I didn't find too much wrong with the dialogue. I thought it flowed well with the film and well, we had to have the dialogue to understand who the woman in Black was and why her evil presence persisted. I do agree that some of the best scenes in the movie were non-speaking though. That shows that the film had good elements to keep the audience entertained without dialogue.

I thought the acting was adequate. I was impressed that, as a follower of the "Harry Potter" series, I did not think "Harry Potter" when viewing Daniel Radcliff as Mr. Kipps. Good review though! :-)


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Thank you for your input CynthiAnn, it's greatly appreciated :)


Darlene 4 years ago

Carl, thank you for writing a fantastic review, and for introducing yourself as a kindred spirit not bashing an actor for a role he played. I had the unique pleasure of seeing Radcliff perform in this lovely ghost story on a business trip for Dish, long before I watched Harry Potter. Seeing Daniel, the actor gave me quite an interesting perspective than fans. Sometimes I like to sit back and simply enjoy a film, without criticizing the fun out of it. The Women in Black is an entirely different entity with fantastic cinematography, coloring, and I loved the acting. I’m a movie watching junkie so I am logged on to Dish Online constantly, especially when I’m traveling, it calms me between appointments. Can’t wait for the next installment; I’m anxious to see what happens with Arthur Kipps afterlife; go get her Arthur!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working