The Woman in Black This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 14, 2012
Daniel Radcliff. Good old Harry potter himself finally branches out from his former glory days and tries something he hasn’t ever attepted before: Horror. Horror is a genre that I have very fond memories of, especially when I was a young boy and watched films like The Terminator, The exorcist, and of course Jaws, all of which used to scare me very much as a kid. But films nowadays are using techniques that never really have worked since the early ninetees, shock and gore. When did films have to rely on gore and cheap shocks to sell their movies? Not since Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, which both came out in the eightees, so you can see how long it’s been since any of those tricks have actually worked. But some films, such as The Woman in Black, are relying on old 60’s horror: Suspense. Finally, filmmakers are starting to realize that suspense is far more threatning than straight up gore (not that a little gore doesn’t hurt from time to time). The film is a fresh approach to an old concept, the haunted house. The reason this film works for me is the fact they set it in the time the book was set, the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, the film never really tells us what time period it is, but considering that there is only one car, and the rest of the time it is trains and horse drawn buggies, it is safe to assume that it takes place in the late 1800’s. The film tells the story of a young lawyer named Arthur Kipps, who’s wife has passed away, leaving him and his child. Arthur is struggling at his current firm, and he is on his last legs with them. His boss gives him one last chance to redeem himself. He has to go away for three days to complete some paper work for an old woman who had passed away in an old house known as the Eel Marsh House. When Arthur arrives in the town, something is very wrong, as he uncovers the secrets that this town has been trying to keep hidden from the outside world. The story unfolds in the usual manner, the hauntings don’t really kick into high gear till much later in the movie. In the very beginning, things are happening, but nothing that is hitting Arthur hard. He isn’t quite sure what to think of the whole thing, but after he continues to see a woman in black around the property, he starts asking questions, but no one is letting him know what’s happened around here. As he’s staying there, deaths are beginning to happen to most of the children, and all the towns people are blaming Arthur’s presence for these deaths. The build up of the suspense is very well done, make us, the audience, trying to figure out what exactly is happening. The house that we spend a great deal of time in is very well designed, evoking all your senses so that you try and keep yourself on guard at all times. The filmmakers do a good job with a good portion of the scares in this film, but I found myself wanting more chills and thrills. What chills and thrills we got were very well done. I don’t find myself often being scared by films, but ghost stories hold a special place in my heart, as I often get very terrified by films like this. It’s just too bad that there weren’t more scares in this film. I have a feeling that the screenwriter, Jane Goldman, was more focused on the characters, that she forgot to add more scares into the screenplay. But that doesn’t mean the film is bad, far from it, it just means that there should have been more. What we do have works, which is great, but I left the theater thinking, “well, I never need to see that again”. I enjoyed watching it from beginning to end, but it’s one of those “oncers” movies. Daniel’s performance was very well done, I had the feeling he was enjoying himself from beginning to end, and was a great chance of pace for him as an actor. At first, I still saw him as Harry, but as the film continued on, I thought of him less and less of Harry, and more of Arthur Kipps. The supporting cast all do a good job, even with the little bit of screentime they have, because the film focuses more on Arthur than anyone else. The director, James Watkins, knows how to deliever good movies, and I hope to see more of his work in the future. He is one of those new filmmakers who has an understanding of what makes things scary, it’s not all about gore and violence. It’s about what is unseen, what is heard, what we think we saw, but really didn’t. I feel like he was a filmmaker who watched all the greats back in the day, and uses all he learned from the good old days of horror and uses it today, which is a nice change of pace. In the end, a solid ghost story, but nothing that I would want to see again. If there were more thrills, more chills, I might consider watching it again. As it stands, once was plently for me.

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