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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Movie Review - The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black (2012)
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, and Janet McTeer
Directed by James Watkins

I must preface this review by saying that it took me nearly two months to get through The Woman in Black.  That's not to say it's horrible (although I'm not saying it's good either), but I started watching this on a plane ride home from London and the little television screen and poor audio weren't doing this ghost story which relies heavily on far-off ghostly images and strange noises any justice.  So, twenty minutes in, I decided that it might be best simply to rent this one once I got home.  Two months later that came to fruition and I finally finished the tale.

I think there's a really good ghost story here -- one of those that you'd tell around a campfire and perhaps genuinely get scared.  In fact, The Woman in Black is an incredibly long-running, well-received, and apparently frightening play in London and I actually thought I might see it when I was over in the UK.  I didn't get around to seeing it onstage and unfortunately something doesn't quite click with the movie.  For only being ninety minutes long, there seems like an awful lot of boring exposition in the first half of the film which drags this thing down horribly.

Lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is sent to a remote village in England to a huge mansion to find the paperwork needed to sell a deceased woman's estate.  For years, many of the town's children have been dying heinous deaths and Arthur uncovers that the unfortunate occurrences stem back to the decades-old death of the young son of a woman named Jennet Humfrye.  Ms. Humfrye, who is also now deceased, feels that her son's death could have been prevented and has been seeking revenge on the youth of the town.

The huge positive of The Woman in Black is that it doesn't try to be anything other than a genuine ghost story.  There's no blood or guts, just old-fashioned scares.  Unfortunately, those scares are too often foreshadowed by director James Watkins' camerawork or Marco Beltrami's score.  We in the audience are conditioned to know in a horror movie that if an actor is standing towards the left of the screen with a large black space to his right, something is going to pop up in that area.  Sure enough, that happens all too often here.  It makes me wonder how this tale would work on a stage.  I can't help but think that it would be more successful than on film.

Daniel Radcliffe is actually fine, but doesn't exude any modicum of charisma (of course, he didn't do that in the Potter films either).  There's also a nice performance from Ciarán Hinds as the only member of the town to befriend Arthur.  In the end, it's kind of a shame things don't come together because the film picks up quite a bit halfway through and at least becomes enjoyable to watch, but it never really becomes "scary" or even "eerie" which ultimately is a disappointment.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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