Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Woman In Black (2012) I Shall Refrain From Harry Potter Jokes

Let's get this out of the way right now:  Daniel Radcliffe played Harry Potter.

Thanks to his growing up in those eight fine films, it will always be hard for him to not be seen as the teen wizard.  But let's get another thing straight right away...

Daniel Radcliffe is an excellent actor.

Despite great performances from a solid cast, 2012's remake of The Woman In Black is basically a one-man show, featuring Radcliffe delivering a convincing turn as troubled young lawyer Arthur Kipps.  Written by Jane Goldman and directed by James Watkins, The Woman In Black is not only a film from Hammer Film Productions, it marks a return to the gothic, bump-in-the-night spooky visual tale of which Hammer was once the relentless factory.  A good, popcorn-at-midnight flick with plenty of mood settings and jump-scares, The Woman In Black isn't the greatest haunted house film ever made, but it's definitely not a bad entry into a genre I would like to see make a bigger comeback.

Based on Susan Hill's 1983 novel, the 2012 film version features Radcliffe as the aforementioned sad sack Kipps, who is a widower with a young son (played by Misha Handley, Radcliffe's real-life godson) and a decidedly less-than-stellar assignment:  rifle through the paperwork to sell an old mansion.  The mansion happens to have the appealing name of Eel Marsh House, and is the center of a local legend in the small town where it sits.  The superstitious townsfolk aren't exactly welcoming to Kipps and maybe they have a point.  The children of the town have been dying with frightening frequency in the most gruesome of ways.  They believe the ghost residing in Eel Marsh House is at fault, and Kipps is only smacking the hornets' nest.

Kipps struggles with the mystery as well as the harrowing experiences he has at Eel Marsh House, including visions of a dark apparition that also seems to appear just before children commit suicide.  He delves into the story with the help of the only person in town who treats him with any kindness, a local businessman named Sam (Cirián Hinds), who also lost a child to the ghostly woman.  Kipps finds out what motivates the ghost and it becomes a race against time and the elements to try and satisfy the dead.

See, no spoilers and no Harry Potter references.

The Woman In Black is a solid thriller with beautiful atmosphere for gothic horror fans and sudden frights for fans of "boo!" sort of moments.  The photography and direction make everything look great, and the acting - especially from Radcliffe and Hinds - is excellent.  The ending might leave you saying, "Oh, really?" but that's really just a minor thing compared to the quality leading up to that.  It's definitely a good one to turn on late at night when you're really feeling like an atmospheric, tense little viewing.  Good, midnight fun.

And that makes it a successful film.

Oh, yeah, one more thing:  the toys.'ll see what I mean.

Here's the trailer:

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