In London, lawyer Arthur Kipps still grieves the death of his beloved wife Stella on the delivery of their son Joseph four years ago. His employer gives him a last chance to keep his job, and he is assigned to travel to the remote village of Cryphin Gifford to examine the documentation of the Eel Marsh House that belonged to the recently deceased Mrs. Drablow. Arthur befriends Daily on the train and the man offers a ride to him to the Gifford Arms inn. Arthur has a cold reception and the owner of the inn tells that he did not receive the request of reservation and there is no available room. The next morning, Arthur meets solicitor Jerome who advises him to return to London. However, Arthur goes to the isolated manor and soon he finds that Eel Marsh House is haunted by the vengeful ghost of a woman dressed in black. He also learns that the woman lost her son drowned in the marsh and she seeks revenge, taking the children of the scared locals. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) first visits the cemetery on Eel Marsh Island, a fleeting scene shows "The Muddy Boy" (the ghost of Jennet's drowned son) standing inconspicuously beside one of the tree trunks in the background. See more »
The coin Kipps offers Keckwick for transport to the old house changes in size as the camera angles change. See more »
It's not natural to lose someone so young. But if we open the door to superstition, where does that lead? It's just chasing shadows, Arthur. When we die, we go up there. We don't stay down here.
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I am vividly aware, as are most avid moviegoers, of the horror movie machine. It churns out Final Destinations, exorcism films, and at an even higher frequency, ghost films. At first glance, The Woman in Black appears to be yet another of these "ghost films," where cheap scares, predictable plot "twists," and horrible acting drag the viewer down into an hour-and-a-half maelstrom of mediocrity that can only end at the appearance of "Directed by..."
According to most of the reviewers thus far, The Woman in Black was a letdown. So perhaps it is because I went into the film with no expectations that I came out of it impressed and very, very shaken. I do not plan to explain the plot to you (many have done this already and there is a synopsis which does a far better job than I could), but I will argue in favor of how successfully scary this film was. Yes, it contains ghost film elements we have all seen before, but they are cleverly and patiently arranged so that the viewer becomes totally enveloped in atmospheric dread. Sure, there are "jump" scares, but these are also complimented by many shots which unfold slowly and effectively. It sometimes reminded me of the 1961 film, The Innocents, if that gives you a better idea. Radcliffe is also a worthy focal point of the film, keeping most of the fear and anticipation unspoken throughout.
I would not nominate this film for any kind of award, but it achieves what I believe should be the ultimate goal of all "horror" movies: to draw us in so close that when our fear manifests itself on-screen, it is already too late to turn away. It rates high as one of my favorite horror theater experiences, alongside The Descent and The Strangers.
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