Actor Daniel Radcliffe leaves behind the world of Harry Potter and plays a young lawyer who encounters a vengeful ghost in the new Hammer Films release The Woman in Black. A remake of sorts of the 1989 made-for-television horror of the same name, the updated version stars Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps, a lawyer and widower that travels to a remote village to settle the estate of a recently deceased woman.
Warned by locals to leave immediately and offered little help outside of a philanthropist named Daily (Ciarán Hinds), Kipps begins going through mounds of paperwork within the now vacant home when strange occurrences begin to terrorize both him and the residents of the village. It is through Kipps’ frightening discovery that he learns of a child’s drowning death in the rising tide that engulfed the road leading to the home and the torment to the family that resulted in the tragedy’s wake.
Directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake), The Woman in Black is a horror film stuffed with atmosphere. The muddy, foggy English countryside has little, if any, punctuating color and the drab and damp feel of the setting only helps propel the bleak hopelessness of the village.
Daniel Radcliffe does well without his fellow Hogwart’s mates and although it took a bit getting used to (every he walked up a staircase, I expected it to move), Radcliffe’s competent and confident acting talents quickly had you forgetting about his 10 year history in the most successful franchise of all-time.
Based on the popular novel by Susan Hill and adapted for the screen by Jane Goldman, The Woman in Black takes it’s time in developing its plot and is able to quietly chisel away at its maturity of lead characters. Reminding us greatly of John Irvin’s 1981 horror film Ghost Story, The Woman in Black is in no rush to provide its share of scares which only heightens the reactions once the more horrific moments of the film are realized. We actually jumped twice in the film which is rare for us hardened critics that believe we can see film developments or jump scares long before their reveal.
Not perfect, The Woman in Black offers what is truly lacking in the genre – a horror film with a plot. For those looking for the quick jump and plenty of CGI splattered blood, look elsewhere. But for those willing to allow themselves to travel back centuries and engross themselves in a moody piece about a ghost and its terrifying reach across an entire village, the film definitely delivers.