The Woman In Black

Viewed – 28 February 2012  Cinema

Daniel Radcliffe has done very well with the highly regarded Harry Potter movies, and it’s good to see him breaking out and carving his own career outside of such a heavyweight franchise.  This being his first major role, it offers the young actor a chance to be taken more seriously, and not be known just for one, admittedly admirable role.  Whilst mourning the death of his wife, a young lawyer (Radcliffe) is given a job to gather together the belongings relevant to a recently deceased woman’s will, and travels to a sleepy town that is more than a little troubled, following a series of children’s deaths.  He soon realises there is something very strange going on, and it all seems linked to the mysterious woman in black, a ghostly figure he see’s at the abandoned mansion he’s been asked to visit.

Based on the famed book of the same name and written for the screen by Jane (Stardust, Kick-Ass) Goldman, this is well made and very creepy, in the grand tradition of classic haunted house horror movies.  No surprise when it’s made by Hammer, who cut their teeth on this stuff back in the day.  How refreshing it felt to sit down to a more traditional horror that relies on genuine scares rather than blood and guts.  Radcliffe is very good and carries the movie well, being both gutsy and shit-scared at times, even if overall the role doesn’t exactly stretch him.  He’s also supported well by one or two recognisable English thesps.  The movie reminded me a great deal of Tim Burton classic Sleepy Hollow, and also had elements of Spanish chiller The Orphanage.  Although I did see many of the scares coming, as it does wallow in genre clichés … they were still executed effectively and made me jump and gasp throughout.  The set design and the location as a whole were also enough to send shivers.

I’d say the family-friendly rating prevented the movie from really going for it however, and the overly-familiar setting and situations meant I wasn’t totally freaked out.  I would have liked to learn more about the ghostly woman’s past, and the ending seemed to come by all of a sudden – yet this was still entertaining, and had enough good moments and tense atmosphere to make it one to watch.  On this evidence, I look forward to what the former Harry Potter does next.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

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