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In London, solicitor 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
If there's one thing horror movies have taught us, it's that ghostly old dears and kids are a recipe for new underwear.
30 years and several retools on from Susan Hill's now seminal pocket novel comes the big screen adaptation of The Woman in Black. Swapping the lingering, life-spanning impact of Hill's Dickensian book of the dead for a hollow yet effective house-of-horrors yarn that'll have you stirring in your seat- and out of it.
The film's set-up is more or less identical to the book but with a few baffling tweaks; Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a solicitor and widowed father of one who's summoned to a remote town and manor on an eerie northern marshland where he's to settle the estate and will of a recently deceased old hag. Somethings wrong with the place, though. An ominous figure stalks and taunts and haunts the townspeople. A child falls whenever it is seen; a woman in black.
If there's one thing horror movies have taught us, it's that ghostly old dears and kids are a recipe for new underwear. And what do you know, The Woman in Black has them both in droves. All of which reside in a haunted, Victorian mansion in the middle of nowhere. The film charts Kipps' probe into the strange happenings from inside the damned estate in this simplistic yet effectual horror gem that's as playful and frightening as it is enjoyable.
As a stand-alone picture, director James (Eden Lake) Watkins' Woman in Black is as sound a horror of this ilk and purpose come; the haunted-house caper has been done to death then done again over the course of cinema's history. The Woman in Black is the best of its kind for quite some time. When measured against the book, though, it comes up short. Despite remaining faithful to its source through large parts and absolutely nailing the location, Jane Goldman's screenplay omits certain key scenes as well as the haunting bookends that made Hill's novel one the finest ghost stories of all time. Fans of the book will find it hard to fathom why these decisions were made. Maybe Goldman and Watkins wanted to stamp their own, uplifting mark on the tale. Shades of Kubrick's Shining? Not quite. I won't reveal what transpires in Hill's novel, but if the film had followed suite, it would've had greater substance and longevity.
Grafting Harry Potter onto its set-up ensured Watkins' film spun a profit before it hit a single screen. In an undemanding role that require Radcliffe tread cautiously and look scared, the boyish Brit does what's expected of him but fails to impress; to say he's believable as a father would be stupid. He isn't. If Radcliffe is looking to break free from his Potter persona, it's going to take a lot more than a 12A, British horror film to do the trick. Albeit a damn good one; the Evil Dead 2 a la Dickens without the gore, gut laughs and satire. Jumpy, jittery and fun. Yes, fun. The Woman in Black is by no means a black comedy but its clichéd set-up and slow-boiling pots of suspense are so well conceived and cooked you'll be scared silly and amused at the same time. Nervous laughter? You bet. Watkins' delays the unveiling of the shadow shrouded woman to the bitter-end but when we finally see the bitch, its no laughing matter.
Think The Shining without the depth. Think Paranormal Activity without the realism; a minimaliststic, nail-biting scare-fest primed for the big screen that joins the likes of The Others and The Village as well crafted mainstream horrors fit for young and old. See it.
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