Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer
The Buzz: Daniel Radcliffe's first post Harry Potter role sees him reuniting with another collaborator from that series, Ciarán Hinds. Produced by Hammer Film Productions, a legendary studio which dominated the horror market back in the fifties to the seventies, the film is based on the book of the same name by Susan Hill.
The Story: Set in the Edwardian era, a young lawyer struggling with the passing of his wife is sent by his boss to a remote village to settle the estate of a deceased woman. While there, he uncovers a deadly secret; one the villagers try to desperately conceal from him. A series of deaths lead him to uncover the secret, the vengeful ghost of a woman dressed in black.
inSing.com thinks: “The Woman In Black” is one of those films that is refreshing in the sense that its conviction to sticking to its guns as a complete throwback to how films used to be made is exactly what makes it stand out. In an age where most horror films feel so disposable and utilize cheap scares, this movie admirably avoids all that.
Instead, the movie embraces the gothic air and casually invites you to soak it all up. As the movie progresses, the scares almost basically make themselves, as the cold moody Edwardian setting and the mystery engulfs you.
The solid performances delivered by the cast, along with the simple story of a man dealing with loss does make for a simple, yet quite a hoot of a movie.
The simple intrigue of ghosts being more than enough to keep most of our attention... and an actual plot that made sense is just the cherry on top of all this. None of this is remarkably new, but it's all solidly executed. The scares can be described as a spine tingling chill that'll pop up often instead of the modern out of nowhere scream inducing shocks we're used to, but they are very effective.
The production, with its moody and relaxed pace is beautiful, and Radcliffe's character is both easily relatable and easy to root for as well. As the film goes about it business, we get spooked by creepy looking toys, candles and the Gothic atmosphere of the small town the story is set in, we realize that's how it's how horror films have always been; some easy and slightly scary fun.
Granted, the movie is not perfect; it will feel slow to the adrenaline junkie crowd that frequently watch horror films, and the scares are not crazily scary, but overall it’s a well-made production that understands the concepts of fear, utilizing the power of dread, anticipation as well the fun of picking up clues to solve a classic mystery.