The Woman in Black (2012)
Director: James Watkins
Janet McTeer/Mrs. Daily
A young-buck lawyer in mourning (Radcliffe) ships out from London to a remote village on the East Coast of England. Why? To sort out the legal affairs of some dead broad at her old house (called Eel Marsh), located on the coast. Thing is, the dead broad’s ghost is still mulling around and she be PISSED… OFF!
You learn something new everyday. I didn’t know that THE WOMAN IN BLACK was first a book in 1983 (by Susan Hill), a popular stage play and a 1989 TV movie (directed by Herbert Wise) before it creeped on the big screen starring Harry motherf*cking Potter. Where have I been? Oh yes... DRUNK! Needless to spit I haven’t tapped any of the prior THE WOMAN IN BLACK incarnations so I entered this one’s macabre world a virgin and came out of it a happy horror man-slut!
After the solid remake of LET ME IN, the awful THE RESIDENT and the “Did it come out already?” WAKE WOOD, Hammer Films has finally put out a movie that screams and spooks OLD SCHOOL HAMMER… about time chaps! THE WOMAN IN BLACK was a swell throwback to Gothic horror of old, starting with its striking production designs and bang on locations. The Victorian mansion here put the “y” in creepy while the morose village and the oppressing marsh surrounding the desolated house/road made for some chilling afternoon delights. Add to that an able smoke machine and sombre cinematography (by Tim Maurice-Jones) and you get a picture that could have been shot in the 60’s or 70’s. Moreover, James Watkins classy moves behind the lens perfectly served the type of affair this was. He went with lots of “wides” and measured dolly/ crane shots whilst his potent use of slow motion and his “corner of the eye” type of fear ploys resulted in scaring the piss out of my fish and chips. Ahhhh… how refreshing to see a movie tackled in that fashion again.
Although it maybe had one or two boo scares too many in its bag of tricks, there were some genuine frights here that used the well-known, spun it on its severed head and let her rip! For example, the sight of the veiled woman in black and them child’s toys were beyond unsettling (all about that cymbals whoring monkey…brrr). And I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a rocking chair rock that hard. Rock on ghost-dame, ROCK ON! Yup, thick, crawl under skin moments were countless and the genius sound design that backed them up helped contribute in giving me a double-down case of the willies. On the acting front; this was almost a one man show. Now I’ve never seen a Harry Potter movie (and never will, not my jive) so I didn’t have the Potter stigma stuck to my noggin. In my tome, Daniel Radcliffe was solid all around. There was a wounded quality about him that I found endearing and he carried the film like a champ. The supporting cast was exceptionally convincing as well, with Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer in particular standing out the most (well, they did have the bigger supporting roles, but they could’ve sucked). I adored their chemistry with Radcliffe.
On the flip side, there was some redundancy in the middle section, one question was left unanswered for me, but more importantly, this thought kept ringing in my melon as I clocked this flick: “After everything he’s already seen, when the f*ck and I mean THE F*CK is Arthur Kipps gonna ask somebody in that town what the hell is going on!?”. I mean they’ve been trying to put him back on the train since he got off it and all of the kids are staring at him from windows. Peeps even rush back in their homes when he pops up. Did he think it was his B.O.? For reasons unknown, Kipps never felt compelled to simply ask somebody “Yo what’s going on in this town man?” Even after ghosts came and haunted his ass, he wanted NATHING to do with asking around. That bothered me, felt trivial to serve the plot and I had to switch my suspension of disbelief button to “ON”. Lastly; I wasn’t crazy about the finale; it tried to get its coochie and eat it too. It should’ve gone one way or the other in my opinion. Almost felt like a cop-out. But hey, what do I know!
On the whole; THE WOMAN IN BLACK was a slow burn, old fashion ghost story that was often terrifying. Lots of it was déjà vu, but it was so good at what it did, that I had a blast wiggling in my seat in anticipation. Rock on!
Some light blood and Radcliffe’s menacing and out of control eyebrows. This one was not about gore, but about tension.
T & A
Radcliffe’s menacing and out of control eyebrows.
Modern Hammer finally delivers a film that feels like old school Hammer! THE WOMAN IN BLACK sported a delectable retro flavor, had visually arresting locations, elegant camera movements, REAL frights and enough tension to give ya an aneurism. And of course, Daniel Radcliffe proved here that he’s more than some a-hole with a wand with his well rounded performance. Sure lots of it was familiar, suspension of disbelief had to be applied as to Radcliffe’s reaction to the town folks, I still had one important question left unanswered and the ending didn’t fully do it for me. But when the end credits rolled I could say that I had a grand time sinking me claws into this one, nothing like a couple of good scares to start the day right! I hope you dig it too!
At first they wanted to shoot the movie in 3D. Thank Crom that didn't happen!
This was the first Hammer film to be shot in England in 35 years
Adrian Rawlins (who played Radcliffe's father in the Harry Potter movies) also played the lead the 1989 TV Movie; The Woman in Black!