The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black

Hammer Film Productions has a rich history in horror cinema dating back to the early 50s and extending through the 70s. And although the UK studio spent the last few decades in relative hibernation, The Woman in Black proves that they’re back in top form.

Based on the novel by Susan Hill, The Woman in Black is set sometime around the turn of the last century, in a tiny village on the east coast of England. Daniel Radcliffe plays young attorney Arthur Kipps, sent by his employer to settle the affairs of a reclusive old widow who recently passed away at the secluded Eel Marsh House. Kipps himself is a widower who struggles with the memory of his late wife, who died in childbirth four years earlier. He finds himself dreading his assignment and leaving behind his young son.

The Woman in BlackThe grey dampness of the British countryside and the ancient crumbling buildings frame the story in perpetual gloom. Nevertheless, The Woman in Black is a beautiful movie – the cinematography and editing are an artful reminder of the kind of quality that has been the visual hallmark of Hammer films.  The movie relies quite a bit on  jump scares for its suspenseful atmosphere, but unlike some other recent horror films, it doesn’t seem gratuitous here. In fact, I found myself genuinely creeped out several times, and I can’t think of another movie in recent memory that elicited as many gasps and screams from the audience.

The story provided a few twists and turns – with shades of both The Wicker Man and Ghost Story – although the ending was a little predictable. Daniel Radcliffe did a surprisingly good job, presenting an air of maturity that almost made me forget that he spent his entire childhood playing Harry Potter.  Despite its PG13 rating, The Woman in Black should deliver enough scares to keep even the most diehard horror fan happy.

Rating: 4/5 ★★★★☆ 

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About Dave_P

Dave_P studied fine arts and film history and is a graphic and web designer, and a diehard movie fan. David has been involved with a variety film festivals including the Cinephile Film Festival, the PRIDE Film festival, and the Manhattan Short Film festival, and is currently the director of the Dark Carnival Film Fest in Bloomington, Indiana. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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