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I can honestly say that I have really never been more terrified in a
film. Not that I can remember. From the beginning of the film, the mood
is set - something is horribly wrong. The screenplay was simply
brilliant. The adaptation from stage to screen was highly successful,
in my opinion. The scenic designer did a fantastic job with everything
from the nursery to the town Kipps stays at. The directing was also
something to be applauded. Over all, this film was wonderful and I
would recommend it. And I must say, Dan Radcillffe did a great job. He
may not be the most incredible actor, but he has really improved so
much. It's most evident here because he could not hide behind words or
a wand, he could use just his face and body language. They are an
actor's tool after all. To be able to carry a film with body language
is something to be commended. Few actors can.
On another note, I adored the fact they never hid the Woman in Black. They embraced her from the beginning, with little traces of a face in the windows as they were passed. The simplicity of the film was what I think made it so terrifying. There weren't blood and guts flying around with a poor sap strapped to an operating table while a deranged lunatic tries to connect him to the anus of another. It was a simple, yet effectively frightening, ghost story. I can say I loved every second of it.
If you love horror films, give it a go. This is the first film I've seen in quite some time that was worth my entire $10.00 to see it.
People have complained that this is a horror movie filled with horror
movie clichés. But how could it not be? I mean is it suppose to be a
horror movie at the local shopping mall? No, of course it is in a
haunted house, were else would it be? As much as this movie drew on the
horror standards, I found it refreshingly different from most horror
movies. Part of what I want from a movie is something different, not
more of the same, and I think in that respect, all things considered,
this movie delivered.
While it did make use of the standards like jump scares, I really felt the suspense of this movie. I mean, at least for me, this movie was wound very tight. The suspense was ratcheted to the limit.
While I'm still not past Daniel Radcliffe's voice, I still hear Harry or Daniel, his face and body language were spot on, and greatly added to the tension of the movie.
In the end, it is what it is, a suspenseful horror movie that gets the job done. This isn't a genre noted for 'Academy Award' performances. But as suspenseful horror movies go, I was very satisfied with this one, and thought they did have a new approach to an old genre.
I went in to seeing this movie after reading the book, and personally I thought it was great. Horror movies these days get loss in blood and gore and that's what the work thinks is "horror" these days, thankfully this movie took a turn to what horror actually is. There are plenty of scenes that make you jump and keep you on the edge of your seat and the storyline is great too. The only weird thing was there were just a couple scenes in which I just couldn't help but think of Harry potter but that didn't even come close to ruining it for me. I was nervous because I thought they Showed all the scary moments through the previews but they did not! Daniel Radcliffe did a great job and I would go see it again with out a doubt. We need to see more horror movies like this one!
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.
The Woman in Black is directed by James Watkins and adapted to
screenplay by Jane Goldman from Susan Hill's novel of the same name. It
stars Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds and Janet McTeer. Music is scored
by Marco Beltrami and cinematography by Tim Maurice-Jones. Plot has
Radcliffe as young London solicitor Arthur Kipps, who is sent to the
North East village of Crythin Gifford to clear up the affairs of
deceased woman Mrs. Drablow. When he arrives he finds that the memory
of Drablow, and her remote house of Eel Marsh, holds the village in a
grip of fear, particularly those who have children.....
It's fitting that that bastion of British horror, Hammer Studios, should be behind this delightful period ghost story. For this positively oozes old fashioned values, harking back to all those wonderful spookers set around a creepy village that featured an even creepier castle or mansion at its core. More presently, the film has kindred links to the likes of The Orphanage, The Others and The Changeling, while the vengeful spirit acting out of Eel Marsh House is pumped by J-Horror like blood and Darkness Falls' Wraith bitch nastiness. So clearly The Woman in Black is not a fresh arrival to the horror splinter where the ghost story resides. However, great period ghost story films are in short supply, and Watkins' film most assuredly is a great entry in the sub-genre.
Propelling it forward is Watkins' (Eden Lake) excellent sense of mood and crafting of palpable unease. Quite often the better ghost story films are better because they operate on a what you don't see is what scares you more level, Watkins has managed to keep that aspect of his film whilst also giving us enough of the truly terrifying spirit to jolt us in our seats; often showing her to us and not to Radcliffe's Kipps! When the shocks come, and there are many and they are bona fide underwear soiling, they act as merciful releases from the built up dread, but then when Watkins doesn't deliver a shock, we are left waiting uneasily, darting our eyes all over the expansive frame, searching fruitlessly for a glimpse of something troubling. Did that wind up toy move? Is that a pallid face we just glimpsed in the shadows? That damn rocking chair is the scariest there has ever been! And on it goes....
A film such as this is only as good as the production design and setting for the story. Thankfully Watkins and his team have nailed it there as well. Eel Marsh House exteriors are Cotterstock Hall in Northamptionshire, perfectly foreboding, while the beautiful village of Halton Gill in the Yorkshire Dales gets a Hammer Horror make over to become Crythin Gifford. But it's with the interior of the house where the makers excel, an utterly unforgiving and upsetting place, brilliantly under lit by Tim Maurice-Jones for maximum scary effect.
On the acting front the film rests solely on the shoulders of Radcliffe, and he comes up trumps. Initially its awkward accepting him as the father of a young boy, and once he gets to Crythin Gifford he is dwarfed by all the other adults who live there, but once the Victorian setting envelopes him the awkwardness evaporates and the characterisation becomes more realistic and easy to sympathise with. The character is changed from the book, meaning Radcliffe has to carry inner torment as well as exuding an outer coat of trepidation blended with stoic fear. It should be noted that for much of the picture he is acting on his own, reacting to the house and the overgrown gardens and marshes, in short he is terrific and it augers well for his adult acting career. In support Hinds and McTeer are pillars of professionalism, with McTeer's Mrs. Daily a creepy character in her own right, but it's also another neat meditation on grief that sits alongside Arthur Kipps'.
The ending is also changed from that in the novel, and it's already proving to be divisive. How you react to it, and it is up for a two-fold interpretation, may dampen your overall enjoyment of the picture? Personally I have no issue with it, I was still sunk in the cinema chair breathing heavily at that point! The certification and the presence of Radcliffe ensures that a teenage audience will flock to see it, many of whom will not get the "horror" film that they are after. Hopefully the word will get out that this really is only a film for those who love a good boo jump ghost story of old, that's its target audience, and that's the people whose reviews you should trust. 9/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Woman in Black is a fine and appropriate return to atmospheric
horror movies for the once great Hammer Films. It sticks to the source
material's (the 1983 novel by Susan Hill) original time period (the
late 19th century to the early 20th century), with authentic costumes,
sets and a spectacularly creepy haunted house. The mood is perfect
(emphasized by extreme isolation), the sustained dread is
gut-wrenching, and the anticipation is a killer. Although this is a
ghost story with the standard dilapidated, abandoned mansion as the
central location for trepidation, it presents several very unique ideas
for old-fashioned hauntings.
Young Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) lost his wife (Sophie Stuckey) during childbirth a few years ago. He frequently has visions of her in her wedding dress (symbolically, the woman in white), which gives him a newfound sense of spiritualism, but hampers his ability to work effectively at the law firm that employs him. His last assignment, one that is necessary to prove his dedication to the company as well as demonstrate his recovery from grief, is to journey to a remote village on the outskirts of England. Once there, he must sort out the papers left at Eel Marsh House to finalize the financial and legal dealings of the recently deceased Mrs. Drablow. Although the townspeople wish for Kipps to leave as swiftly as he arrives, he finds a friend in Simon Daily (Ciaran Hinds), the only man in town with a car, and one who has lost his son in an accident and whose wife (Janet McTeer) has gone crazy with mental suffering. What is supposed to be a simple job becomes plagued by disconcerting secrets, the mysterious deaths of children, and the unnatural sightings of an ebony-veiled woman in black funeral attire.
The use of demonic-looking toy contraptions and unnerving dolls is nothing new. Nor are the expected, manipulative jump scares fueled by loud thuds, screeches, and jarring sound effects (and a pesky crow), or the sudden appearances of otherworldly imagery coupled with crescendo-favoring musical accompaniment. But the evil spirit itself is wonderfully singular in its ability to scare through subtle materialization (coming into sight in alarming manner, with slower paced emergences more traumatizing than the rapid ones), its targeting of children and pattern of avoiding physical harm to adults, and most of all in its vengeful mission that cannot be appeased, calmed or quelled. She's a wronged poltergeist of legendary ill-omen stature, foreshadowing doom; she's not meant to be satisfied but rather endured.
The explanation for the wraith is much more straightforward and understandable than in the previous film adaption. The many questions that arose from the 1989 version are neatly covered here, opting for a clear-cut motive of insatiable revenge. Kipps still possesses an uncanny bravery (or stupidity) in the face of genuinely frightful, spectral harassment, and attempts many panic-induced, pointless parries (such as locking the door on a ghost). The conclusion has changed, along with the previous unforgettable climax, but despite the morbid nature of the story and the terminal confrontation, screenwriter Jane Goldman (or perhaps interfering producers) has chosen the most assuaging method to wrap up a dark narrative of eerie tragedy and undying wrath.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
The film did not disappoint! In a day and age where a scary movie is
about "how much blood and squirt out of a body and how far can it go",
it is refreshing to see this good old fashioned romp around a haunted
Things jump out at the right moments, the imagery is creepy and disturbing. All the right makings to have people of all ages pulling their hoodies down over their faces.
The ending was Hollywoodized, but the move holds onto it's simple scary imaginative fun.
...and the house is spectacular!...as is it's location.
Creepy and off-putting, The Woman in Black really is a terrific
thriller. It's intended to shock, and in many scenes it is successful.
It's a moody, psychologically scarring throwback to the old Roger
Corman movies based on Edgar Allan Poe stories, with an amazing adult
performance by Daniel Radcliffe as a young lawyer out of his depth.
Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), a down-on-his-luck attorney, is asked to travel to a remote village and find out if a recently deceased woman has left any heretofore unknown wills. It's Kipps' last shot at success, his employer sternly warns him. His journey to the village is eerily similar to that undertaken by Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Something's not quite right with the town, which clearly doesn't want him around, something to do with children being murdered and people blaming a dead woman. You know how it is.
Kipps' sleuthing leads to more and more questions. Who was the woman (ostensibly, his client), really? What relationship did she have with the town? And what of those treacherous marshes, and that long and winding road to the main house that is impassable when the tide is in? Why is it that every time Kipps turns around, a shadow darts away? Understanding that these are all staples of the great horror movies of yore doesn't mean that this film is stealing; it is merely authentically replicating the desolate atmosphere, in which a whisper can signal death.
I entered the theater knowing very little of the movie's content. Was it to be a mystery, and we'd find out who the titular woman was at some point? It is, and we do, but that is only part of the puzzle. The best horror movies, in my opinion, are the ones that build just the right amount of suspense and then pull the rug out from under the viewer. A slow buildup must have a satisfying payoff. Showing the evil the lurks in every other scene dilutes the fright quotient. This movie doesn't do that. It pulls no punches to our psyche.
It is so closely shot by Tim Maurice-Jones, who's best known for his work with Guy Ritchie. Maurice-Jones' style here is to capture almost every shot from Kipps' perspective, thus bringing the audience that much closer to the terror he's supposed to be feeling. Radcliffe, to his credit, never comes off as some innocent lad who's just starting out in the business, and although Kipps is perplexed - much like Edward Woodward's character in The Wicker Man - he is determined to see things through, even though he has strayed a bit from his original mission.
Something is definitely wrong here, and it involves the children. Are they to blame for the nefarious goings-on? Are their parents? No one is saying anything. To make matters worse for Kipps, he has a young son of his own, whose mother died in childbirth and who is coming to visit Kipps in a few days. The grief felt by the parents of the fallen children only heightens Kipps' own fears.
There are several moments that, on the Internet, would be called shock videos. Everything seems normal, and then BAM, something pops out of nowhere. In lesser movies, this might be seen as a crutch, a way to stun your senses to get a particular reaction, but here it all fits in, and it conveys mortal terror. The Woman in Black's identity is revealed very early in the film, so the mystery isn't who she is but why these events keep occurring. Is it all superstition, or is there something more to the spiritual aspect of the plot?
The ending is tidy and satisfying, but it is by no means conventional or predictable. In fact, it opens up even more questions. But more importantly, director James Watkins and screenwriter Jane Goldman (based on a book by Susan Hill) do not take the easy way out. People do not necessarily live happily ever after. Story threads are not necessarily sewn up tight. It is a riveting film steeped in a macabre atmosphere teeming with the potential of death with every slow approach to a corner or a locked door.
OK, I'll admit, I went into this film with not very high expectations, I left on the other hand pleasantly surprised and genuinely creeped out. Daniel Radcliffe, while not the best actor, also exceeded my expectations. The movie theater was packed and people really seemed to be enjoying themselves. People screamed when they were meant to and shivered accordingly. At the end the theater broke out in applause, and it was the most packed theater I've seen since the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Walking out into the lobby people were still blown away, and I myself could not believe what just happened. So what I'm saying is, if you're looking for a fun night to be creeped out in an old fashioned horror film sort of way, go see the Woman In Black, you will not be disappointed.
Daniel Radcliffe has definitely grown up from his days as Harry Potter. This movie is reminiscent of the 1970s Gothic horror films. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys real horror movies such as the movies with Oliver Reed. The location this movie was filmed is spectacular, and the ending is unbelievable. This is definitely a movie that has people jumping in their seats. It is not overdone, and each of the actors/actresses do a fine job. This is filmed on location at Layer Marney Tower in Essex England. The film was planned to be shot in 3D, but that plan was later scrapped. I am happy that it was scrapped because this film does not need that kind of theatrics. It's well written with a great plot and excellent acting.
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