February 3, 2012
Review - " The Woman in Black " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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The Woman in Black
Director: James Watkins
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer,
Widowed lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) heads to
the bleakly remote Eel Marsh House to sort through the
papers of a recently-deceased recluse. However, his
frosty reception in the local village is compounded when
he lays eyes on the spectral Woman in Black – a
sighting local lore maintains will lead to the death of a
child. Eden Lake director James Watkins and Kick-Ass
writer Jane Goldman chillingly adapt Susan Hill's novel to
icy effect with Radcliffe competently slipping into his first
proper post-Potter role.
After putting paid to evil Lord Voldermort and his
diabolical plans for world domination, Daniel Radcliffe’s
got another malevolent child-killer to deal with.
With rather more modest ambitions than The Dark Lord
(this one merely does for local nippers by showing her
shadowy face), Dan’s new nemesis still has the power to
She’s the Woman in Black, an eerily spectral figure
whose chilling appearance always presages the violent
death of a child in the local village.
Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a lowly solicitor whose wife
died in childbirth leaving him to raise his young son. He’s
despatched to the bleak northern English coast by his
London law firm to sort out the papers of the recently-
deceased Alice Drablow.
The reception isn’t a warm one. The unfriendly pub has no record of his booking and advises him to take the first train
home. The distracted local solicitor doesn’t want to get involved…and advises him to take the first train home.
The only friendly face is that of local landowner Sam Daily (Hinds), who invites him to stay and offers him a lift across the
causeway to the foreboding Eel Marsh House, the decaying home of Mrs Drablow.
Pretty soon it’s obvious that he’s not alone – we hear muffled bangings from the old nursey and – more terrifyingly – a
skeletal face peering over his shoulder as he looks out the window. It’s time to get the kids indoors.
Director James Watkins and writer Jane Goldman have taken Susan Hill’s spare 1983 novella and fashioned it into
something quite different – a spookily rich (some would argue over-rich) gothic horror in the grand traditions of the house
Disappointingly, the opening 30 minutes play out like an American Werewolf in London-style parody with a village full of
hostile yokels making it plain they’d like to see Dan on his bike.
Fortunately, when he’s installed in the (very) creepy house things pick up, with some genuine scares and a couple of truly
terrifying encounters with the vengeful ghoul floating in a smoky cocoon of black malevolence.
Radcliffe is well up to the
challenge (even if he doesn't
fully convince as a father)
although you rather fancy its
his fearless track record as
HP that leads him to stay the
night in a house where
anybody with an ounce of
sanity would opt for the
Goldman has added some
frankly unnecessary devices –
Daily’s deranged wife and the
exhumation of a body from the
marshes draw the focus away
from main narrative rather
than embellish it.
Ultimately, though, it’s an
effective chiller in the grand
tradition of British horror with
a couple of icy-bucket-of-water