The true gothic Hammer horror film returned in 2012 with The Woman in Black, starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe. The danger of doing 8 Harry Potter films and growing up before the entire movie-going world is that some people will forever see you in that role. And I must admit, I had that same feeling while watching him try on his gothic horror hat. At times, all I could see was Harry. But at other times, I could see a fine, young actor showing respect to the material and the genre. Now, I must first admit that I’ve never read the 1983 novel by Susan Hill or the 1989 television film. So I went into this movie was a clean slate. Furthermore, we had a mature audience watching this film with my daughter and I back in February, so no disrespectful people talking through the movie. Add to that it was a huge grand auditorium with a balcony and you had a great atmosphere to envelope ourselves into the gloomy village and the ghost that went bump in the night.
The movie is set in mid-to-late 1910s and centers on lawyer Arthur Kipps, played by Radcliffe, who is sent to remote village to finalize the paperwork of a now deceased client. We come to learn that his wife died in childbirth and this is his last opportunity to get his head back on straight. Upon arriving in a village, he might as well have been a vampire for the warm welcome he was given. And the house he needs to get to, known as the Eel Marsh house, is only accessible when the tide is low, which adds to the feeling of desolation. Once he arrives at the house, the ghosts awaken and the tension builds to one final night of answers and confrontation. The locations used required no CGI and immediately set the mood. Eel Marsh house couldn’t have been more haunted looking if they tried. It was hard to accept Radcliffe at first but as the movie progresses, he does a wonderful job. We also have Ciaran Hinds as Daily, showing he can act, something I questioned upon viewing his poor performance in Ghost Rider 2. Yes, we get some cheesy jump scares but we also get some very unexpected ones. And the overall creepy tone of the movie can put you on edge when this is watched in the right environment. The movie was moderately successful but enough to warrant a sequel. The all too common blood and gore was replaced with a gothic atmosphere that some younger moviegoers didn’t appreciate. However, The Woman in Black: Angels of Death is scheduled for release in 2014. We have a while to wait but I am curious as to how they plan to continue the story. The ending wrapped up the Kipps storyline well but clearly left the door open for more. The Blu-ray looks amazing and I highly recommend this for Halloween season viewing. It is currently in my top five list of favorite movies viewed at a theater this year.