A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.
The Harry Potter film series was one of the most popular and high grossing collection of films of all time. With the characters being cast initially in 2001, and the final film coming out in 2011, that made for a full decade of seeing the same people playing the same characters. For many child actors, an extended period of playing one role will lock them into that one character for the rest of their entertainment life, and they won’t find much success after they try something new. This is probably the biggest film release for any of the three main Harry Potter child actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson. I assume the Harry Potter crowd will be very intrigued, just as I am, to see these three actors try their hand at other genres and styles, something different than what we’ve come to know and love from them for the past 10 years. I think Radcliffe chose well, for this movie seems to share the similar dark and intense theme that the last few Harry Potters had, so the transition shouldn’t be too hard.
Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a widowed father to a four year old son and struggling lawyer. His current job requires him to travel to a remote English village to collect the paperwork necessary to sell an old, long abandoned Victorian manor. The local villagers, aware of his intentions, try their best to direct him away from this place, but Kipps must complete this task in order to keep his job. He soon finds that this is no ordinary house, and that it is actually haunted by a ghost, a woman in a black dress.
While the part was a good choice for Radcliffe, I think he was a bit miscast for this role. He is only 22, and in this film he is supposed to be a father of a four year old. He just doesn’t look the part. His performance is fine, a good stepping stone for what looks to be a pretty promising career.
If you know me, you know that I don’t really care for “scary” movies. That’s putting it a little too lightly for me, actually. I hate them. It is damn easy to be able to get people to jump out of their seats, which is virtually the only thing the films I watch ever accomplish. They all use the same little tricks and cliches, and usually bore me to death. I wanted to see what Radcliffe would be like as anyone but Harry Potter, and the reviews weren’t too shabby, so I decided to give this film a shot.
This film doesn’t do anything new with it’s methods to accomplish thrills and chills, but there is a little more taste to them then I’d usually see. There are plenty of seat jumping moments, but there is a little more invested into the long, building, suspenseful shots, the ones that actually create stress, anxiety, and other relatives of fear. The sound mixing is a bit odd, but it is effective, as sound is probably the most important element in horror and thriller movies.
In the end, it’s still a horror movie, and I think the entertainment value of these films are cheap and easy, and don’t appeal to me on a personal level, but this one wasn’t so bad. I wouldn’t hesitate too much to even call it a decent film. Coming from me, that’s pretty high praise.
2.5/4 – The Woman in Black is Daniel Radcliffe’s first venture into post child-star success acting. It’s no Deathly Hallows: Part 2, but it is an effective horror film and a decent movie.