In hindsight I think that in my review of Hammers Let Me In, I was perhaps too generous in my praise for that film. On hindsight whilst managing to correct some of the mistakes of the Swedish original (getting rid of that awful “cat attack” scene), it was perhaps too American a Hammer film and when re-watched comes across as a bit, well, bland. I didn’t see either The Resident or Wake Wood after that but hearing reviews neither of them were what Hammer really needed to get themselves established as a major producer of horror movies again. I was disappointed to be truthful, I wanted old Hammer back, and I wanted great period horror movies. So along comes the Woman in Black, an adaption of a successful novel and play that was once disastrously adapted by the BBC into a film. So I was anxious to see how this would turn out, I was happy that it was a period horror (very familiar to Hammer of course) and I thought Daniel Radcliffe may be a sort of young Peter Cushing (Radcliffe did admit to being happy to follow in his footsteps). On the other hand, a Woman in black film had failed once and could it do so again?
The plot is similar to that of the play (I haven’t read the book so can’t comment here) despite one or two differences, extra characters etc, etc. Young widowed Solicitor Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is sent to Ealmarsh house to go through the papers of recently deceased Alice Drablow with the intention of finding her will. Upon arriving at the village he is treated with suspicion and distrust being warned that he should not venture up to the house, not receiving any explanations as to why not of course. When he arrives he sees a mysterious woman in black and his troubles only start to begin...
So is it any good? Put it this way, it’s one of the best ghost movies I’ve seen in a long time easily beating the dross that is the Paranormal Activity movies, in fact topping many of the Haunted house classics. Some may think I’m being too sudden in my judgement like I was with Let Me In, but I have watched and re-watched this film several and times and it has never failed to impress me. To begin with it’s genuinely terrifying, of course it’s filled with jump scares but it works with its audience manipulating you so that the film slowly scares you more and more. An example of this is how at the very start of the film we only see a glimpse of the Woman’s veil, and then we see her stood in the distance. Slowly we are reviled more and more of her face until the end of the film when we get a full close up. The whole film works like this, creeping you out at the start and then gradually becoming more and more frightening as it goes on. As I said it has its fair share of jump scares but the rest of the fear is all based on atmosphere owing from a magnificent score and superb direction.
The problem that occurs with many ghost films is that we the audience are not really given a reason as to why the people (or person) stay in the house or are so sceptical despite being presented with visual evidence of the paranormal occurrences. TWIB provides two very simple reasons as to why Radcliffe restrains from leaving and is reluctant to believe straight away. He has to stay at the house because if he doesn’t he’ll lose his job and will not be able to care for his son, he wants to believe because there may be a way to contact his wife. In Paranormal Activity 3 released last year the failure to provide conclusions to these two simple problems resulted in a film that shocked its audience but lacked in plot.
Admittedly one of the reasons TWIB is so good is what can only be called a phenomenal performance from Daniel Radcliffe. I have to admit when I first viewed the film, I like a lot of people, thought that Radcliffe looked too young for the role and I still do. Within five minutes of him being on screen though you forget this facts he is capable of letting you get inside his character and see all his emotions. He’s a broken man who wants nothing else but to be with his dead wife but can’t kill himself because he has a son to look after. He desperately wants to believe in contact with the spirit world as it means that there may be some way he can reunite with his wife. Radcliffe’s performance truly makes this film what it is particularly at the end scene, easily one of the best and most beautiful endings I have seen in a horror film in a long time.
If you have not seen TWIB don’t sit reading this closing paragraph go and watch it. Hammer has finally got it right with this movie and I for one am very excited by the announced sequel. I hope hammer learns for this movie and follows it with similar ventures, the horror genre has been screaming for a new breath of fresh air, this could be it.
Welcome one and all- Please leave sanity at the door
A Teenage boy with a passion for all things nerdy! Expect a lot of Doctor Who, Cult/Horror Movies, Literature and Novels, History, Comic Books and random thoughts. Posts published weekly on a Friday evening. DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the items reviewed on this site and i also do not own of the pictures (unless stated so). If you own one of the photos and wish for it to be removed contact me at this adress: Super.firstname.lastname@example.org. However all of the written work is my own and is protected under copyright law.