Carl the Critic: Reviews "The Woman in Black"
"The Woman in Black" Trailer
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?
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.
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.
"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?
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Carl the Critic © 2012 HubPages.com