The Woman in Black – Review

Hammer Films is a very well known and loved company within the horror community. They had been around since the 1930s before becoming best known for their adaptations on Dracula, Frankenstein and the other gothic horrors in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s the film studio stopped production and faded into the background and memories of fans. Fast forward to 2008 and the studio was bought and put back into the fold. 2010 brought the American version of the Swedish book Let Me In. In 2011, it was announced that the studio was going to go back to their roots and bring The Woman in Black to the big screen starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliff.

Daniel Radcliff plays Arthur Kipps, a lawyer that has to go to a remote village and has to get together paperwork on a house where the final inhabitant, Alice Drablow, has passed away. What he doesn’t know is that the house carries with it a dark curse. Once he gets to the village, Kipps finds out that he is not wanted there. People seem to be very worried about his presence, but no one will tell him why. After meeting up with someone villagers to get some paperwork, he is told to go back to his home in London. Kipps does the opposite and heads to Drablow’s home at a nearby marsh. Once there he hears footsteps, seeing shadows moving and seeing people that aren’t there.

Once he goes back to the village, Kipps notices that the children are killing themselves, but no one will tell him why. They just want him gone. The next day Arthur goes back to the house and the longer he stays there, the more he learns about the history of the house and the history of the woman in black.

This feature was the first for Radcliff outside of the Harry Potter series for the young actor. He does a really good job in the lead here as this was a total departure from the boy wizard. You really feel for Kipps, who 4 years earlier lost his wife during child birth and hasn’t recovered from that experience. The rest of the cast was made up of British actors with the stand out being Ciarán Hinds who plays Sam Daily, the only person in the village to befriend Kipps and the only one who might be able to tell him what is going on.

James Watkins, who’s directorial debut was the horror film Eden Lake, did a wonderful job here. The look of the movie is really a throwback to the old school gothic horror films of the 1940s and 1950s. There are many elements of the classic haunted house feature The Haunting. Even though you do see the ghost here, sounds and angles are used to perfection like the 1950s film. The acting was great, the look was wonderful and the score by Marco Beltrami was a joy. It was perfectly placed in the film as it was subtle but showed up when needed.

If there are any complaints about the movie it’s that the ending was telegraphed from the start. Stevie Wonder could see what was going to happen. In the case for this movie, that didn’t take away from the movie, however, as the set up was worth going through to get to that ending. The film also seemed to be a bit short. It had a running time of 90 minutes, but the ending felt a bit rushed as the movie seemed like it wanted to keep going a bit longer. There were also too many jump scares. In a film that uses subtlety to get it’s point across, using jump scares takes a bit away from the chills you get.

A good horror movie will stick with you once the final frame is over and this is one that certainly does that. It’s one of those movies that when you are home alone and hear a creek or a drip, you might think twice about what you really hear.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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  1. I’m sold! Thanks!!

  2. Saw this the other day and thought it was great, good to see hammer getting back on the screen again. Its one of those films that works very well in the cinima, but hopefully will still be a good blu ray.