Let me preface this review by noting an observation I have made when it comes to horror movies. All people are scared by different things. Some people find the psychological aspect of mankind most bone chilling, while others need the guts and gore to really be convinced. As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the horror genre, my favorites range from the grotesque Dawn of the Dead, to the classic works of Alfred Hitchcock. That being said, I found The Woman in Black had me jumping quite a bit.
Set during Victorian England, the scenery is sufficiently somber throughout as we follow Aruther Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a windowed lawyer who is sent to a village to take care of sorting out the paperwork of a wealthy woman who recently passed away. Needless to say, during his time there he begins to discover a deadly secret that has long plagued the village, whilst witnessing horrific supernatural occurrences.
The plot is fairly typical of a ghost movie; a terrible buried secret stirs up the vengeance of a scorned ghost who seeks redemption in taking her hostility out on the towns people (and most anyone with the misfortune of setting eyes upon her). However, what made this movie exceptionally scary to me wasn’t the story, but the way it was filmed. The dark, morbid setting kept audience members on the edge of their seats, and the pervasive silence through much of the film made people jump more than a few times. This movie was masterful in taking its time to have things pop out at just the right moment, and artful in its skill at finding camera angles that left you feeling uncomfortable and anxious. Needless to say, the film was rewarded by quite a few screams from members of the audience throughout the night.
I’m sure there are a few Harry Potter fans out there wondering how Daniel Radcliffe did with his first major role since the end of the epic Harry Potter series. In my opinion, Radcliffe showed that he may just have the versatility to escape a life of typecast roles. He believably fit into the time period, and seemed to take a “less is more” approach, filling the role of mourning husband and single father without bringing unneeded drama to the screen. Since seeing the movie, friends have asked me, “was it hard not to think of him as Harry Potter?” I’m glad to say it was not. This is mostly due to his side burns and the time period clothing that made him look more like an adult lawyer and less like a wizard boy wonder. I also think it’s because Radcliffe effectively stepped into a different role very well, and nothing about Arthur Kipps charter could remind you of Harry Potter.
If you are a fan of the horror genre and have not gotten the chance to see The Woman in Black yet, I recommend you see it. It’s opening night was Friday, February 3rd, so it’s still quite new in the box office. But just as a warning, you may find yourself having trouble sleeping that night!
The Woman in Black Trailer