- Story Line
- Scare Tactics
A Brief Synopsis
Lawyer and widowed father Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is sent to a creepy and remote village to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased woman. After a series of awkward and weird encounters with the townspeople, Kipps begins to figure out that not all is right in this small town. After venturing to the house of the deceased client, Kipps discovers a ghost-like entity haunting the property. Once mentioning his “sighting”, the story of the woman in black’s vengeance begins to unfold.
Coming from a lengthy role as a young wizard, I imagine it could’ve been difficult for a child actor to not get typecast. While he had a few Potter-esque moments, (there was a scene where he was reading a newspaper on an old train and I just really wanted the photographs to move) Daniel Radcliffe showed that he could actually act! For a lot of the film, Radcliffe is exploring on his own. He’s in this new creepy town, in this creepy old house, and he thinks he sees a ghost and he does this without really being able to rely on cues from costars. Radcliffe successfully created an atmosphere of suspense all by himself without being dull or cheesy. Although it was kind of hard to believe he was the father of a child because of how young he looks, he certainly acted like a grown man.
The Longest Hallway in History
So the style of this creepy mansion that Kipps is exploring off in the marshes is sort of like an old Victorian home. It’s kind of dark and Gothic, with an extensive amount of cobwebs. But there is this hallway in the upstairs of the house that, I kid you not, is literally where 70% of the camera shots inside the house are filmed. It’s a hallway that goes all the way from one side of the house to the other and then there’s a balcony on one side where you can see downstairs. So Kipps will be on one side of the hallway, and hear something creepy down at the other end. Then a 20 minute shot of him walking down the hall, super scared, holding a candle, but just walking ensues. And walking. And walking. After what feels like an eternity, he finally gets to the other end, opens the door to the room and there’s an empty rocking chair. This literally happens several times throughout the movie, just shots of him walking down this hallway and being scared. I understand if you’re trying to build suspense with a slow, creepy walk, but there’s a point of overkill and The Woman in Black was way past that.
The Woman in Black film is based off the Susan Hill novel of the same title. Now I understand the desire to turn a book into a film but I feel as though the story line needs to be strong enough to support itself amongst the visual imagery. See, in a book there is only story, but in a movie you can add entirely new dimensions. If you’re going to spend the time to turn a book into a film, at least choose a book with a good story. While I didn’t read the novel, and after seeing the movie I am definitely not going to, I can still say that the plot of the film was dull. I’ve simply seen it before. Young man goes to creepy old big house where an evil spirit lives. And even the story of the evil spirit is, in a word, stupid. The ghost of the “Woman in Black” is taking vengeance on the children of the city and forcing them to commit suicide. But I didn’t think it was entirely clear why. At one point, Kipps sees a vision of Nathaniel, the Woman in Black’s son, drowning although no explanation of the incident is given. So the story goes that since the Woman in Black lost her son, she now comes to kill all the others. I can’t say I’m terribly impressed with the creativity involved in that story.
Where’s the “Thrill” in “Thriller”
Nothing in a mythical creature flicks pisses me off more than poorly thought out demons. While I didn’t quite understand if the Woman in Black was supposed to be a zombie-ghost or just an ugly demon, I can’t exactly say she was scary. Instead of making her frightening, the filmmakers decided to have her fly into the camera very fast with a very high pitched and loud sound. Now it’s possible that in theatres this had a scarier effect, but I don’t think you should bank on your audience having a 60 foot screen to watch your movie on. Really the high pitched screech was more annoying than scary.
Buy It, Rent It or Skip it?
For The Woman In Black, I would say skip it for sure. Unless you’re really dying to see Daniel Radcliffe’s acting, the only notable portion of the movie, I think this film will quickly be forgotten about. There’s a no need to rent this thriller, or lack thereof, so save your money for something with a good story or that at least scares you.
Overall: 1 out of 5 stars
All in all, this movie was bad. It really wasn’t scary, the story line wasn’t impressive and it was slow. From the dialogue to the scenery (most of it being in that hallway), The Woman in Black was boring. Daniel Radcliffe certainly worked with what he could, and gave a convincingly scared performance for the unlikely event of someone haunting you. I think the real problem was that the story line just wasn’t good. It was exciting, or interesting, or new, or different. And those are all things I look for in a movie, whether it’s based off a novel or is a completely original story. I happened to get to watch this movie on Blu-ray but even the stellar quality of the picture couldn’t rescue this dull film. Maybe next time Harry Potter, maybe next time.
‘The Woman in Black’ Movie Trailer