The Woman in Black (2012)
Directed by: James Watkins
Running time: 95 minutes
Now Showing this week is The Woman in Black, directed by James Watkins and based upon the 1983 horror novel by Susan Hill of the same name. The film tells the story of Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) who is a widower father of a four year old boy in the late 1800s to early 1900s (the film isn’t specific as to the era, all I know is that cars are a relatively new thing!). Kipps is a lawyer who has been tasked to leave his son in London and travel to a country England town to settle the affairs of a deceased woman who owned a mansion. Kipps agrees, as he is told he will be fired if he doesn’t, and arranges for his son to be brought to him in the town in a few days. The town has recently been suffering a few unexplainable child deaths and all of the townsfolk are afraid of this huge mansion that is isolated from the town. That mansion also happens to be the mansion that Kipps must go to to get cracking on that mountain of paperwork the previous owner left behind. But in the shadows of the mansion, there is something stirring, something ready to kill!
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, The Woman in Black sounds like a fairly stock standard horror movie. It’s dark, set in an isolated location and involves young children (who, let’s face it, are down right creepy!). Another convention of the stock standard horror movie that The Woman in Black follows, sadly, is that it has a pretty bad storyline and weak characters. Radcliffe as the widower lawyer is in no way bad, but I just struggled to believe the fact that he could be a widower or that he has a four year old son. This is probably due to the fact that I am aware that Mr. Radcliffe is only three months older than myself (I am twenty-two) so I just thought he was too young for the character. Everyone else in the film was alright, they played their parts well. But they were the usual suspects: the sceptic on ghosts, the “crazy” person who believes in them, the angry townsfolk etc.
As for the storyline, it just felt like the filmmakers (or maybe this is the novelist’s fault!) couldn’t think of good enough reasons for Kipps to be in scary situations. The first time is fair enough; he had to go to the mansion to look at all that paperwork. But some fairly creepy stuff happens in there, and he leaves back to the town. But later, he decides that he has to go back and rejects the offer to be brought back before the nightly tide traps him there. Why? He really has to get that paperwork done and ghostly women be damned! It just felt weak.
However, once scary things were going on I must say that I was pretty terrified. Though I am a self proclaimed sissy, I doubt anyone could deny that the mansion in which most of the horror takes place has a lot of atmosphere surrounding it. One never felt relaxed during the mansion sequences as the horror never stops! There were never any rest periods, the tension just kept building and building until finally something scary would happen and then the suspense would just sky rocket from their on in! While most of the jumps would come from the film being really quiet and suddenly something loud jumped out (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!), there were some excellently executed moments of unexpected and not sudden but spine chilling stuff that made the whole experience seem worth it. I love a jump as much as the next man, but I do truly love something that isn’t so much jumpy but a sudden realisation and it suddenly changes your perception of the scene. The Woman in Black had plenty of those, and they were very welcomed.
In conclusion, I did really enjoy watching this film, but I must say that this is only because I really enjoy feeling immersed in the atmosphere of a film. But the storyline and characters were nothing special and the conclusion of the film was a rather unsatisfying middle finger to the audience that rendered all the proceeding events moot. If you like a good scare, this might be worth a look; but don’t come looking for a walloping good story.
See you next time!