Movie Review – The horror of the mind

2012-07-20 10:41

Film: The Woman in Black (Nu Metro)

Director: James Watkins

Featuring: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer and Ciarán Hinds
Rating: 7/10

Finally, the revived Hammer Film Productions company scores a hit with The Woman in Black.

As a bonus, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe shakes off the orphaned wizard image to try something completely different – and he’s spot-on.

Based on Susan Hill’s 1983 Victorian-era horror story, this spooky tale was made into a stage play in 1987 and has been on London’s West End since 1989.

I saw it in the mid-1990s and the hair on the back of my neck stood up from curtain-up until the entire theatre erupted into a collective blood-curdling scream midway through.

And then the audience was really freaked out until curtain-down.

So, scriptwriter Jane Goldman (Stardust, X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass) had a tough act to follow – and she pulls it off with aplomb.
Radcliffe is Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer sent to a tiny English hamlet to wind up the affairs of a reclusive widow,
Mrs Drablow.

The old lady’s island house, Eel Marsh House, is the creepiest place on the planet and to add to the chill factor, it is cut off from the mainland during high tide every day.

With the scene set thus, Kipps’ no-nonsense, evidence-driven way of thinking is thrown a curve ball when he spots a woman dressed all in black. He thinks she’s a local woman, until he works out that she’s been long dead.

Director James Watkins resists his slasher roots (The Descent Part 2, Eden Lake) to explore a classic ghost story. Without the distraction of spurting blood and deranged killers with axes, The Woman in Black is much more terrifying.

This is the kind of story that will steal a night’s sleep from the most hardened horror fan because it leaves just the right amount of horror to the viewer’s imagination.

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