THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012) Review

Directed by: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciarán Hinds

First off I should probably mention that I haven't read the original novel or the TV movie based on it, which I actually think is a good thing because it means I won't be comparing this remake to the original source material in this review. The prospect of seeing Daniel Radcliffe in something other than HARRY POTTER was a little strange at first and I was curious to see how well he could carry this movie. Thankfully by the time the credits rolled I was well impressed with what I had just seen.

Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is a young lawyer who has been suffering from the death of his wife during childbirth a few years back and it has been affecting his performance at the law firm for which he works. He is sent on an assignment to prove his dedication to the firm. He must travel to a remote village on the outskirts of England to look over the papers and finalize the legal proceedings of the recently deceased Mrs Drablow. But when he arrives there is obviously something wrong. Children have been mysteriously dying and the townspeople want Arthur to leave as soon as possible. After a bit of sleuthing, Arthur seemingly finds more and more questions. Who was Mrs Drablow? And why will nobody venture near the old house on the island? And who is the woman dressed in black who keeps mysteriously appearing?
Arthur of course, takes it upon himself to try and unravel these mysteries.

On the surface this seems to be a generic ghost story. There is a dilapidated mansion on a remote island which is haunted by the ghost of its former inhabitant. A mysterious woman dressed all in black is seen, and each time a child dies in what seems like a terrible accident. Pretty standard fare for a ghost story really.
But what I thought set this apart from most others was the incredible atmosphere and the period setting. It really brought back memories of those classic Hammer titles from yesteryear.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK does a great job of ratcheting up the tension too and it is genuinely creepy. There are a few cheap jump scares thrown in but mostly the film relies on the atmospheric scares. And take a look at those toys and tell me that they aren't creepy as hell!
As for the acting, the entire success of the movie really relies upon Radcliffe's performance and though it may be hard to accept him as a father and lawyer rather than the boy wizard we're all familiar with, as the story moves along you don't really pay it much attention. Ciarán Hinds as Daily (Kipps' only friend in the town) is also a great support and Janet McTeer (Mrs Daily) does a good job too.
Even though the ending isn't exactly original or surprising, I found that it fit in just fine and wrapped up the whole experience nicely. 

So far this year THE WOMAN IN BLACK has been the only movie which I have really enjoyed. The story is easy to follow while not being boring, the acting is brilliant, the setting is perfect and the film just looks great. If you want to see a genuinely creepy and atmospheric ghost thriller then this is the movie for you.

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