The Woman in Black

Radcliffes Victorian horror

English (A)Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, Liz White, Director: James Watkins

Of late, English horror seems to have lost its charm, what we are fed with includes “found footage” films, such as The BlairWitch Project and Paranormal Activity, or we get to see films lifted from the Far East such as The Ring, Shutter and The Grudge. 

So it’s a relief for the classic horror buff that The Woman in Black, the first major horror release this year, takes us back to Victorian England and is about a haunted house, inhabited by unfriendly ghosts. Based on a novel, the film is about a London-based solicitor, Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) who arrives in a small town to settle the affairs of the late Mrs Alice Drablow. Kipps has a four-year old son, whose mother died in child birth.

The town’s residents are not friendly, except for a couple that help Kipps unravel the mystery of the haunted estate. Kipps encounters several paranormal events, including the apparition of a woman in black.

As this apparition is capable of harming only kids, we see Arthur investigating the mansion fearlessly, until he starts to believe that the estate is indeed haunted. To qualify as a horror film, Watkins employs several jump scares, which seem repetitive.

Added to this is the choice of Radcliffe as the lead, which seems to be a ploy so that a drab adaptation of an earlier TV series (1989) is sure to become a hit. Radcliffe, however fails to convince the audience with his deadpan look. He looks boyish for the role and often finds his screen presence stolen by other actors. In contrast, Johnny Depp was superb in Sleepy Hollow and Sweeny Todd…

Yet, The Woman in Black is a good film, for it proves that there can be horror without gore. It will be remembered for Radcliffe’s first adult role after the demise of the Harry Potter franchise, although this is one outing he would like to forget.

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