Monday, February 6, 2012
The Woman in Black or: Move your ass Daniel Radcliffe!
I am a pretty big scaredy-cat but I do know one thing about myself: if I was trapped in a spooky haunted English mansion and I kept hearing disturbing noises coming from the upstairs, if I absolutely had to go investigate, I would run the hell up there as fast as I could instead of creeping along ever so slowly ala Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman in Black. Why give the ghosts all that extra time to think of something to really scare the shit out of you? I mean, if you run right in there they probably wouldn't have time to turn on all the creepy mechanical dolls and put on their spooky face. It would be like walking in on someone getting dressed: quite awkward. "So sorry, I am not quite ready for you yet. See, I have to get the rocking chair going and write something on the wall in blood and then I must hang myself from the rafters. Could you please come back in like a minute?"
With DanRad you don't have this problem because he creeps ever so slowly throughout the entire film. The Woman in Black is being called a return to "old school" horror. Well, just about every horror film lately is claiming to be this, but Woman in Black really truly is old, old school. Based on Susan Hill's novel (which was adapted for T.V. in the late Eighties and is a long running stage play in London), The Woman in Black tells the story of young lawyer named Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe). Kipps lost his beautiful wife in childbirth and is struggling to raise his young son. His law firm gives him one last chance to save his job. He is assigned to take care of the final affairs of on Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh.
The residents of the small community are none to pleased to see him, and they try to prevent him from going out to the manor. Arthur finally does make it out there, and what he finds is true horror, old school haunted house style!
I won't go much more into the plot than that. The Woman in Black is a classic haunted house yarn. Not much new is added to the canon here. The revenge that the ghost takes on the residents of the small village is quite horrifying, involving children as it does. Director James Watkins is very good and using sound and darkness to invoke terror, and Radcliffe does a credible job playing a grieving young father. In reality, the role should have gone to an older actor, but that fact never bothered me while watching the film. I never thought of Harry Potter once! Really. O.K., maybe just a little.
My one complaint about the film is the use of CGI. It's not overused, but I just can't see why they used it all. Every effect could have been done using old school methods, and I think it would have added to the overall feeling of the film. I liked the ending (which I think must be a bit different in novel) and I didn't feel at all like it was a "tacked on happy ending" (which is what some are saying.) There are moments in the film that gave me true chills. It's been a long time since I could say that. During one scene I got the shakes so bad that I thought this film must have some evil mojo. We will see how I sleep tonight. One thing is for sure: if I hear something in the living room I am not going to try to creep up on it!!