Haunting tale, performances reinforce Radcliffe film (VIDEO)
'Woman in Black' excels in genre due to direction, cinematography
Following his fame in the Harry Potter series, actor Daniel Radcliffe attempts to woo audiences in his latest role, the horror film The Woman in Black. The movie is rated PG-13 for thematic material and violence/disturbing image and is currently playing at most local theaters.
There is something to be said for a movie that doesn't try to do anything too creative within the limits of its genre. If you make a truly entertaining film that literally follows all of the classifications of the genre you are working in, you know that you've made something special.
The Woman in Black, released Feb. 3, isn't ashamed of what it is. The film is a by-the-numbers haunted house movie, but it pulls it off with a deft skill that is mind-blowing at times.
The movie, set in the early 1900s, revolves around young, widowed lawyer, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), who lives with his 4-year-old son, Joseph (Misha Handley) and his son's nanny.
Under the threat of termination at his job, Arthur sets off for a small village to handle the estate of a woman who owned property on the outskirts of the village.
Upon first arrival, Kipps makes friends with Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds), who invites him to a dinner hosted by him and his wife -- the later is played by an incredibly eerie Janet McTeer.
Sam then offers Arthur a lift to the woman's property, which is miles away from any civilization whatsoever.
Kipps begins working on paperwork upon arrival at the house, but starts hearing a strange noise coming from upstairs. Things get even creepier when he notices a woman dressed in black standing listlessly in the garden.
Arthur travels to the town's police station and reports the sighting to a constable, who exits the room, seemingly worried about something. A little girl is then rushed into the building by her two brothers, who tell Arthur that she had drunk lye. The girl coughs up blood, then dies.
The townspeople are convinced that the girl was possessed by the person that Arthur saw, saying that the woman is a spirit who is seeking revenge after the death of her son. The only skeptic in town is Sam, a grieving parent, who sums up his beliefs with the statement, -When we die, we go up there, we don't stay down here.--
I will not explain anymore of the plot because the nature of The Woman in Black is part of the reason why the story is so intriguing. The audience is slowly given information about this ominous figure at a fantastically slow-burn pace, which makes the gothic-fairytale plot more interesting than it has any right to be.
The film also features some truly great acting from the likes of Radcliffe and Hinds. Radcliffe pulls off the part of a grown adult exceptionally well, considering that this is his first post-Potter flick. In the character of Arthur Kipps, he personifies terror better than almost all of the nameless actors in modern horror films combined.
Hinds is fantastic as well, and is able to deftly convey the change his character takes from skepticism to complete belief in the goings-on, even if the script doesn't allow much time for him to make that transition.
The two standout features of the film, however, are its cinematography and direction. Director James Watkins and cinematographer Tim Maurice-Jones, craft the horror with a skill not seen since the halcyon days of John Carpenter.
"Radcliffe pulls off the part of a grown adult exceptionally well, considering that this is his first post-Potter flick. In the character of Arthur Kipps, he personifies terror better than almost all of the nameless actors in modern horror films combined." --Mark Bennett, '14
The first half of the film is shrouded in a mysterious dread. Not much happens, but you are completely on edge waiting for something. Aside from a few decent jump scares, there is no respite. The film features fantastic use of fog throughout the first half, as well.
The second half is when the scares start to come at a faster pace. The film picks up for modern audiences, and, frankly, is bone-chilling while doing so.
This being said, the film stumbles in a few spots. The opening gives away a little too much of the mystery, the best 20 minutes are not saved for the climax and it could have honestly been about five minutes longer.
Also, I cannot urge you enough to wait to see this film. Horror movie audiences are notorious for ruining the atmosphere, and the audience I saw it with was no exception. Your mileage may vary, but I'd go the safe route and see it in a couple weeks.
Still, a few minor nitpicks aren't enough to keep me from saying that The Woman in Black is the best horror movie I've seen in a while.
The Woman in Black runs for 95 minutes and is rated PG-13 for thematic material and violence/disturbing image. For tickets and showtimes visit Fandango.
For more movie reviews, read the Jan. 30 article, Classic Allen techniques charm 'Midnight in Paris' (VIDEO).