Review: The Woman in Black (2012)

“I believe even the most rational mind can play tricks in the dark.”

The story follows a young lawyer, Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), who is ordered to travel to a remote village and sort out a recently deceased client’s papers. As he works alone in the client’s isolated house, Kipps begins to uncover tragic secrets, his unease growing when he glimpses a mysterious woman dressed only in black. Receiving only silence from the locals, Kipps is forced to uncover the true identity of the Woman in Black on his own, leading to a desperate race against time when he discovers her true intent.

To give you the full effect of watching The Woman in Black whilst reading this review, I will randomly insert loud music to create an effect jump. BOOM! Look, there’s one! Adapted from the book (itself already successfully adapted into a long running stage play), The Woman in Black follows young widowed Lawyer Arthur Kipps, played by Daniel Radcliffe, as he travels far up north to settle the affairs of a client. Once there though he finds a terrified village trying desperately to keep him away from the old woman’s supposedly haunted house.

Daniel Radcliffe is good, and that’s all there really is to say about that. He has already proven in theatre work such as Equus and TV work like My Boy Jack that he can act, and so comes to this project without that expectation hanging over his head. The only problem is no matter how good Radcliffe is, he is just too young to play the part. Radcliffe’s character is a Father of a four-year-old child and has presumably been university educated to work as a lawyer; unfortunately Radcliffe just does not look old enough to have done these things, and his miss casting is a burden on the film.

The locations used and the set design of the village are very good; the film feels cold and isolated, which is then only heightened when Radcliffe journeys to the haunted house only reachable at certain times of the day due to the tide. Yep, so help is really not coming then? The house itself is proficiently creepy, and the grounds overgrown and ominous.

Unfortunately though The Woman in Black’s generic camerawork, lighting and editing let the production and set design down. Editor John Harris cuts like he is working on a Michael Bay film, this then not so luckily compliments Tim Maurice-Jones camerawork; in a static scene set in a lawyer’s office early in the film’s first act, the action cuts between gliding cameras and a variety of other set-ups in a style that is closer to Paul Greengrass than Hammer! The haunted house set is terribly over lit, quickly dispelling much sense of creepiness; it’s not so much walking blindly into a dark room, as a dimly lit one!

Although The Woman in Black gets off to a shaky start, mostly down to Jane Goldman’s script, it soon finds it feet and starts delivering the scares. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before in a hundred horror films (I would recommend tracking down Robert Wise’s 1963 film ‘The Haunting’ for a better example) and Daniel Radcliffe’s casting is a terrible decision, but whilst watching the film it was great for a scare and a laugh. It just would have been nice to also get that chill that stays with you for days, or even weeks later. Oh yeah… BOOM!

One Response to “Review: The Woman in Black (2012)”
  1. Raghav says:

    Great review.Boom! I agree with the while DaniTHUD (what was that?) Radcliffe being too young for the part. I’m still to see the film SWOOOOSH but still it seems like good enough for a watch… Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa 😉

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