The Woman In Black Fim Review
Directed by James Watkins
Released in 2012
A young Lawyer is handed a last chance to save his career when he is given the task of sorting the final paperwork of a woman who has died in a remote part of rural England. Upon arriving in the village he encounters hostility from the locals who want the newcomer to leave as soon as possible. Upon visiting the house of the dead owner, he believes he sees the ghostly image of a woman, form here on he struggles to decipher the grisly story that lies within.
Set in Edwardian times, Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is a young Lawyer who is struggling to hold down his job. He lives with 4 year old son, whose mother died in childbirth, and a Nanny who cares for the boy. Kipps is given the opportunity to revitalise his ailing career when his give the task of sorting the paperwork of a woman who has recently died in a village called Crythin Gifford on the east coast of England.
Kipps travels up to the village by train and meets Sam Bentley (Roger Allam) who informs him that after he has finished dealing with the paperwork, he will not find a local buyer for the house, but does not explain why. Bentley is kind enough to offer Kipps a ride from the station to his lodgings and Kipps' journey seems to be of to good start. But upon meeting the owner of his lodgings he is met with a decidedly hostile welcome and is informed that he can only stay for one night, then he must leave.
Eel Marsh House, is situated on a causeway and is cut off from the main land as the tide comes in. He is left by his driver and told that he will picked up at 5pm when the tide allows. Kipps sets about finding all of the paperwork in the house to get the job done and await the arrival of his son at the weekend. It is now that he believes he sees a Woman dressed in black, a shadowy figure that disappears as soon as she appears, is this a ghost? Kipps also hears strange noises coming from different rooms in the house, but determined to finish his job, dismisses them.
As Kipps becomes more of a feature in the village and his sightings of the mysterious woman increase, he starts to investigate the paranoia that seems to be gripping the village. During his stay there are disturbing deaths involving only children, and the house, through it's paperwork and memories make Kipps think there is far more to this whole situation than any of the locals are letting on to.
As far as ghost stories go, this is up there with anything that a big time picture has had to offer. If you really want a film that makes you jump, go Japanese, they are, and always will be the true masters of this genre. But in The Woman In Black James Watkins delivers an atmospheric, eary film that has just enough bumps in just the right places to make it work really well. I don't scare easily, but there where a couple of instances where you know something is going to happen but you're not quite sure what and yes I jumped (a little bit!)
The film is shot extremely well, the location of the house on its lonely island, cut off by the tide is brilliant. The first scenes of the house with its unkempt grounds and tree shrouded facades give a sense of neglect that this place has been wantonly forgotten. (I actually thought it looked a little like Arkham Asylum!) I especially liked the child's room filled with all of the wind up toys that would have been popular in that time. The glazed looks on their faces are used to great effect when we encounter scenes of fear, they almost seem to be mocking Kipps.
It is great to see the name of Hammer, up on the big screen as well. Although I am a little too young to have been watching their hey day films the first time around, I'm well aware of their work and for them to back and producing quality horror again is fantastic!
And so to Harry.....Sorry, I mean Daniel Radcliffe. Has he been able to shrug off Mr Potter? A definite yes from me. He slipped in to this role incredibly well, his pallid expression complimented the dark and colourless backdrops of this bleak and foreboding place. And a well delivered performance all bode well for his post Potter film career.