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Good old fashioned thrills and chills
The Woman in Black (DVD)
Member Name: jipp05
The Woman in Black (DVD)
Advantages: Creepy atmosphere, gorgeous cinamatography, Daniel radcliffe
Disadvantages: Rushed ending, the rest of the cast didn't really have much to do
(As film is not available on DVD yet this is a film only review)
I love a good old fashioned scary film but unfortunately these days most so called horror movies rely far too much on blood and gore. While I am not particularly squeamish and enjoy a good slasher movie as much as the next person when they are done right such as with Saw (the first one only) what was once fresh and original has now become stale and predictable and all these torture movies are starting to resemble each other.
That's why when I saw the trailer for The Woman in Black I was interested to see that it looked like a throwback to a time when scares weren't produced by blood and guts and instead relied on storytelling and atmosphere to create chills.
The plot for The Woman in Black concerns Arthur Krupps a London lawyer who is still dealing with the tragic death of his wife during childbirth several years earlier who is called upon to deal with the affairs of a dead client and prepare the estate including a house for sale. Eel Marsh house is located on the outskirts of a rural village on an island surrounded by marshes which can only be reached when the tide is out.
Arriving at the village Arthur finds the locals none too pleased to see him but with the help of wealthy land owner Sam who is also dealing with the tragic death of his son Arthur is able to start on his job of preparing Eel Marsh house for sale.
When at the house Arthur is haunted by a ghostly woman in black who he finds out is looking for vengeance for something that happened to her when she was alive. With the help of Sam, Arthur must find out why the woman in black is so hell bent on revenge and stop her before it is too late.
The film is based on the book by Susan Hill which although I have never read I know it is considered to be a classic by a lot of people in the English ghost story genre. Adapting the book for the screen is Jane Goldman (who is Jonathan Ross's wife fact lovers) and directing the film is James Watkins.
The pair do a good job of bringing the book to the screen and I found the directing to be especially good. The story starts off slow and builds up the tension as it goes along. There are some genuine jump in your seat moments and although some of these are done with loud music and bangs there is a growing sense of dread while watching it waiting to see what would happen.
I never once felt bored or thought the story was progressing to slowly and although it wasn't your usual modern movie where something happens every couple of minutes I appreciated this build up in momentum and thought it was executed excellently.
The story is only set over the course of a couple of days and I did feel as though perhaps that some back story and character development was a little rushed but I imagine it must have been difficult to be able to fit in everything from the book so some parts would have to be cut. I didn't feel as though I was missing anything major and the whole story concerning the actual woman in black was explained fully but I did find that especially when Arthur was in the village that I would have liked to have seen more of that.
My one major complaint with the film is that the ending did feel a little rushed and to be honest I actually hated the last 5 minutes after enjoying everything that went before. I have no idea if this was the same ending as the book but it felt schmaltzy and too sentimental for me personally and I would have liked to have seen it changed. That is just my opinion though and the person who I saw the film with actually liked the ending so perhaps it is just me being cynical.
The cinematography was probably my favourite part of the film and it looked absolutely stunning throughout. The film had a grey almost washed out look and this suited it perfectly. The lingering shots of the marsh land added perfectly to the gothic atmosphere and even the shots of the countryside when Arthur was leaving London looked beautiful but foreboding.
It is never actually said when the film is set but from the clothing it looks to be late Victorian early Edwardian and this era is also perfectly captured and kudos to the costume and set department for an excellent job.
The musical score is just as you would expect from what is an old fashioned ghost story and I never felt as though it intruded on the actual movie or felt out of place. Loud noises and bangs are used to generate scares but these really added to the atmosphere here where they might have been out of place in another more modern setting.
Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur krupps and this is most definitely his movie. I was a little unsure before going into the movie how I felt about Harry Potter playing a lawyer and father and I was convinced it wouldn't feel genuine as I just felt that not only was he to young but I also wasn't sure if I would be able to get past the whole Harry Potter thing and concentrate on the film. I needn't have worried as he proved himself to be a much better actor than I gave him credit for.
He is all doe eyed and innocence personified which really does work for his character in this particular movie and the age part never bothered me after the first few minutes. I have to say I was actually really quite impressed with his performance here.
The rest of the cast didn't really have a lot to do and the movie rests squarely upon his shoulders and he does an admirable job of carrying it.
The certification of the film is only 12A so don't go into this thinking that anything explicit will be shown on screen. Most of the scares are produced by old fashioned techniques such as with noise, sudden appearances and yes actual story telling.
Even though the film is produced by legendary British production company Hammer Films it isn't campy or played for laughs and shows them trying to break into more serious territory.
I really enjoyed The Woman in Black and even though it is an old fashioned ghost story it felt contemporary and with its high production values and star wattage in Mr Radcliffe. It might have a period setting but thanks to the lack of blood and gore what once might have been considered old fashioned actually felt contemporary and like a breath of fresh air.
Summary: good old fashioned chills and thrills