Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of The Woman In Black

The Woman in Black is a horror-thriller directed by James Watkins and written by Jane Goldman.  It’s based on Susan Hill’s novel, which is something I definitely need to get my hands on.  The film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, and Liz White, who are all mainly British actors, some obviously more famous than others.  As a fun little fact (and nod to all the Potter fans out there), Ciarán Hinds starred in the last two Potter films as Aberforth Dumbledore.

This was a film that I’ve been highly anticipating for quite some time.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HARDCORE Potter fan.  (This obviously means I love Daniel Radcliffe)  This is Radcliffe’s first major studio film since the Potter series concluded this past summer.  I am so happy for the world to see that he is a force to be reckoned with, and will not be known solely as “the boy who lived”.  I just recently saw him on Broadway as the starring role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which was not only AWESOME but really sold me on his rare talent. It’s your turn to see his talent now!

The thing I loved about this film was that it was old-school British horror.  It is bringing the genre back to what it should be, providing genuine scares, not just the blood and guts showing of the current American horror film.  While this was enjoyable, I am not going to sit here and tell you that this is a horror masterpiece.  A lot of the scares were reliant on loud noise and camera angles, but at the same time there were a lot of great scenes that kept me immersed in this original story.

Speaking of the story, it revolves around a young lawyer named Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), who is struggling in many aspects of life after having lost his wife four years back during childbirth.  He has been left to raise his son and pay for a nanny, and finds it difficult to find time for his son while he tries to provide for them at work.  In the midst of money troubles and not wanting to lose his job, he accepts a case to settle the legal affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drablow while leaving his son behind in London.  When he arrives to the “Eel Marsh” estate, it is obvious by its inhabitants that he is not welcome and they want him to return home to London.  Of course he does nothing of the sort, and begins to discover that there have been numerous unforeseen accidents/suicides taking the lives of the children in the town.  This leads the parents of the village to barricade their children indoors.  Arthur continues to go to the estate all alone to continue his work.  He starts to hear screams, sees “the children”, and finally discovers “The Woman in Black.”  According to local legend, whenever someone lays eyes on “The Woman in Black” another child dies.  It is her way to extract vengeance since her beloved son Nathaniel was taken from her many years ago in a carriage accident.  Without giving any more away, let’s just say Arthur’s son is coming to visit him at the end of the week.

As I stated earlier I love Daniel’s performance in this film, and it really shows he is here to stay!  My only problem with the casting is that I feel he is a little too young to be believed as someone who is a widow with a four-year-old son.  As he is the major draw for the film though, it seems to work well enough.  The other great performance is given by Ciarán Hinds, who plays a character that Arthur befriends on the way to the estate, and who assists him in getting to the bottom of everything.  He has been in some of my favorite films of all time including Road to Perdition, Munich, and There Will Be Blood, just to name a few.  He is also in one of my most anticipated movies of this year, John Carter, which will be hitting theaters in March. (He was even in a film version of one of Kim’s favorite novels, Jane Eyre, back on A&E in 1997, so he is kind of a big deal).

With all that being said, I highly suggest you check this film out if you are a “true” horror fan. It even offers up some good scares for you non-horror fans, and it is a film that can appeal to the masses in the genre.  I loved the legend of “The Woman in Black” within the story too.  I thought it was very original, and even though I feel that they could have played off of this plot point a little more, I was satisfied with the final product.  The cinematography was awesome, and it made me really want to go back to the Edwardian era especially because of the awesome clothes they wore back then.  I will leave you with this: the ending is one of the best parts of the film.  I had heard it was crazy before going into the film, so that had my mind racing leading up to the end to try and figure out what was up.  When the film finally ended, I am not going to say I saw it coming completely (I had additional different ideas in my mind), but what actually happened was something that I had considered.  So, when you all go see this movie be sure to leave comments as I would like to know what your thoughts are!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Woman in Black (2011)
Hammer Film Productions
PG-13, 95 Minutes