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Movie Review: The Woman In Black

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Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years and 11 months ago

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Low on frightfulness, yet, high on the creep-o-meter… Slow in pace and build-up, yet, remarkable story… Lacking a common supporting cast we’re use to watching play along a certain individual, yet, enough screen-time for Team Radcliffe… No matter what side of the fence you’re on, The Woman In Black is a film we’ll all come across with at one point in our lives.

Ok, well… Err… Umm… In a nutshell, The Woman In Black follows Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), a widowed lawyer whose grief has endangered his career. In order to make up for this emotional slip, he is sent to a remote village somewhere in Timbuktu to investigate the actions of a recently deceased individual, and it soon becomes clear that everyone in this town is keeping a terrible secret. Treating him like a shameful, ousted, family member while hiding the town's tragic history from him, Kipps learns that his client's house is haunted by the ghost of a woman who is looking for someone and something she had lost, and until she finds it, no one is safe from her vengeful ways!

Personally, I felt this film was more of a thriller/mystery, instead of a horror. Horror flicks are supposed to carry a certain type of feel, style and format. Although The Woman In Black has its snippet moments of what a horror’s supposed to be, for the most part, nothing about it put the fear of God in me. Typical behind the door and/or wall sounds and voices, followed by clichés of broken pipes or animals being the cause when it isn’t actual acts of a haunting… The strange thing is although lacking on scare tactics, the creepiness that’s imposed by this film is certainly up there. It’s completely CGI-less when pushing the button and a key factor is when using the house and its surroundings to help keep your mind wondering. You name it: exteriors, interiors, settings, production design etc. What I noticed all along is how the entire film’s emotional distress stems from shots in and/or around the house, setting pace whenever taking the journey there.

Enticing to the core, although extremely slow during the first act, it is pretty intriguing as the film moves along. Kipps starts to find out little by little who this woman in black is, and her purposes in both life and death. It becomes apparent as a viewer to an extent, Kipps isn’t too far off from this ghost who’s haunting and making everyone else’s life a living hell, and pretty much why I’ll refer to this film as a story pertaining to 2 troubled souls. Pretty astute as it leads to film’s ending where the ultimate twist is unveiled, and truly an act I didn’t see coming and made me appreciate this film more than I expected.

Prior to this twist, what I found viciously pleasing is the fact that unlike most horror films, this one aims at making children the ultimate victims. We normally don’t see that in horror films today and when presented, it’s sporadic and quite frankly a bit unrealistic. Children and their knick-knacks play a pretty awesome role when it comes to freaking people out. It’s a look they have, an aura they expose and existence which displays innocence, however, when flipped upon, it can display the most discomforting evil ever…and why? Well, because it’s unexpected, it throws you for a loop. I definitely applaud writer, Jane Goldman, who from what I’ve read, didn’t steer too far off when adapting screenplay from the novel, under the same title and written by Susan Hill. In collaboration with director, James Watkins, they went there. It may seem taboo to utilize children as victims, but it works. They set the pace right from the start of the film, ran with it and made it a purpose to the film’s core about why things are happening the way they are. 

Another thing about this film which I found quite interesting is although we all know Radcliffe from the Harry Potter franchise, and reading about his performances on whatever Broadway show he’s in, I was able to see him play another character. Very young-looking, and maybe not what a lawyer may look like today (Who knows back during the late 1800s), not once did I feel cheated by performance. Others may beg to differ, but Radcliffe proved to me he was able to smoke The Pot away and place himself in a different persona. It was an interesting role to tackle post Potter, and quite a smart one considering he looks, sounds and fits the era presented in this film. I don’t know that we’ll see him land another franchise, therefore, don’t think we’ll see him play Spider-man or James Bond, but I do feel he has a film career ahead. Sure he already had one, but you know what I mean!

Overall, the film is an acquired taste. I’m not sure how the horror-loving-community will treat it, but I know it’s a film that didn’t leave me feeling empty. Yes, it’s a bit slow at first, isn’t really a jump-off-your-seat type, and maybe not the type of film many might accept Radcliffe in, but there is method to this film’s madness. It’s intelligent. If paid respect and attention to, the film peels layers of its skin and exposes something that’s interesting, enjoyable and quite surprising in the end.



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