The Woman in Black is actually based on a 1980’s horror novel and long running UK stage play of the same name. No kidding, I ran into someone from London in my lobby on the very night I saw this movie and struck up a conversation with him. Spooky, right?? Well, not so much “spooky” as something that just sort of happened, and now I’m writing about it. Anyway, before that I had no idea this story existed in another medium. And it was a good one. Not tremendously original in plot or execution, but well done.
Unfortunately for you, deer reader*, this is my least favorite kind of movie to review. Not because it was bad, but because it was good. Just not so good as to merit endless exposition and hilarious analogies (something like “that movie is what Thai masseuses study to give better happy endings”). TWIB is simply exceptional in its alrightness. Like, I don’t know, a handjob from your cousin.
Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a lawyer in early 1900’s England who has recently been faced with a family tragedy and economic hardship. His law firm, possibly in a last-ditch effort to get him back on track, sends him to a small coastal town where he is charged with settling some deceased broad’s estate. I know that the thought of dying alone and childless is terrifying for some women, but that’s not where the horror comes from. No, the recently departed, and the whole town in fact, share a terrible, gruesome secret…
Arthur Kipps arrives to an icy reception on behalf of the townsfolk who all seem anxious for him to leave as quickly as possible, save one rich elderly gentleman named Bentley who offers Kipps a ride to his lodgings. Arthur eventually makes his way to the secluded now-deserted estate of the Drablows, a family with history that is even darker than it originally appears. Their son was killed as a child, and it’s said that the town has been cursed ever since. Bentley of course doesn’t buy into all this superstitious hogwash, which is why he gives Arthur rides to and from the haunted mansion, and later invites him over for dinner.
There is more to the Drablow family tragedy than Kipps first realized, and he is plagued by a mysterious and deadly apparition as he slowly uncovers the dark and terrible secret behind the deaths of a dozen children.
The movie is a good one. I should state that right off the bat since I gave it only a lukewarm endorsement up there at the beginning. It really does have some terrifying moments, and I felt heart racing during some particularly compelling moments. The filmmakers do an excellent job of mounting dread and tension without the in-you-face gore of a slasher flick. TWIM can be dramatic and thrilling, with a few well placed and unexpected bits of humor. Daniel Radcliffe, shrugging off the cloak and wand, gives an excellent performance as the main protagonist. Sure, I still kept waiting for him to “expelliarmus” a locked door every once in a while, but he had to carry the bulk of acting all by his lonesome and did a damn fine job of it.
I guess my recommendation is a tepid one only because their not exactly breaking new ground here. It’s an interesting story with a better than good execution. If you’re a fan of getting scared at the movies you’ll really enjoy this one, but you won’t be sitting around bringing it up a year from now. Unless you do it just to spite me, which is kind of a weird dick move.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!