The Woman in Black Review

My guess is Breaking Dawn Part 1

Today I’ll be laying down some hardcore judgment on the 2012 horror movie, The Woman in Black, starring none other than the Boy Who Lived himself.  While it may attract some traditional horror fans, my guess is that a great deal of people saw this movie to see if Daniel Radcliffe can be anything else but Harry Potter.  The answer is yes and no, but I’ll get into that later.

The Woman in Black sets the stage for creepiness right off the bat with an opening scene involving three little girls taking a break from tea time to collectively jump out of a window while a music box plays.  From there we’re whisked away to Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), a young lawyer pained by the memory of his wife who died giving birth to his son Joseph.  Long story short, Arthur has to go to the house of a recently deceased woman to pour through a load of legal documents regarding her estate, and he is told that if he doesn’t do so he is out of the job.  From there, the story proceeds as you would expect any haunted house story to;  main character gets to new town, townspeople tell him to stay away from the house, main character doesn’t listen, subsequently spends the next 90 minutes getting terrified by increasingly freaky stuff.

As far as the horror aspect of the movie goes, it is of a much more traditional sort than most modern horror movies have been.  There is no crazed murderer, no scenes of nauseating gore, and altogether a fairly low amount of actual death.  Instead, The Woman in Black relies on scene after scene of building suspense and tension to a crescendo until something happens to make the audience jump out of its socks.  While it does a great job of making these “gotcha” scares effective, barely any of those scares end in anything actually happening to anybody which diminishes their effectiveness as time goes by.

Part of the problem with this is that there are very few characters for things to happen to.  Aside from Arthur, the only really significant character is Daily, Arthur’s token skeptic companion played by Ciaran Hinds (a wonderful British actor who you’ve likely never heard of but would instantly recognize).  The nice thing about the typical “serial killer” horror movie formula is that there are generally at least four or five characters available for getting the axe any time in the movie, which means that you don’t know who will survive the next 10 minutes.  With the Woman in Black, Arthur is both the main character and more-often-than-not the only character on screen, so we know that he’s probably going to be alright (at the very least until the end of the movie) no matter what pops out at him out of the dark.

And so we get to young master Radcliffe who, like his Twilight counterpart Robert Pattinson, is doing his best to break out of his young adult character’s shackles.  While Pattinson has had some degree of success with this in recent movies like Water for Elephants and Bel Ami, Radcliffe has not had it so easy.  His performance in The Woman in Black is at least a step in the right direction though.  Combine a few years of age, a sharp suit and a healthy dose of sideburns and we get a much more mature looking Daniel.  Unfortunately, his voice has not aged with him and there are many lines in the movie which make it impossible not to think of young Harry (it doesn’t help that at 5’5″ he still looks like he’s trying real hard to dress up and play with the grown-ups).  I did find myself rooting for Arthur in this movie though, and while I still think an older actor would have been a better choice for the role, I still felt like Arthur was an above average character surrounded by an average movie.

The Verdict:  6/10  Passable

The Woman in Black is a good horror movie for people who don’t like horror movies.  The scares are all there with a decent storyline to back it all up, but there isn’t much to distinguish it from other similar haunted house movies.  I’d say rent it if you’re looking for a good date night scary movie that wont make you want to vomit afterwards.

About r361n4

I'm a student at the University of Washington Majoring Business. I've always loved movies and my goal is to work on the financial side of the film industry. Until then though, I figure I'll spare my friends from my opinions and shout them from a digital mountaintop for anyone who's interested. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody blogs about it, does it really happen?
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6 Responses to The Woman in Black Review

  1. I’m still interested in seeing this at some point but I have yet to read a review that deems it much better than ‘mediocre’

  2. Nice review. Most bloggers forget that good reviews are good writing in their own right (unlike this comment…), so well done. But bear in mind that hardly anyone reads long reviews anymore, however well they’re written!

    • r361n4 says:

      Thanks for the feedback, I completely understand with not wanting to read long reviews, right now I’m trying to get a system in which the main thing that is displayed on my home page is the “Verdict” section with the score and a summation of my opinion, with the full review available by link. Do you know how I can go about doing that?

  3. Here was a questionably quenchable movie for horror genre thirsts, and it had a few good scenes in a steaming pile of repetitive attempts at you spilling popcorn. I want there to be a new movie that tests our nerves and minds like Rosemary’s Baby or Exorcist or Jaws…just to suggest some game changers. Last I can think was Saw (without the hazardous sequels). Paranormal is not because, well, Blair Witch invented the house camera thing, but this just twisted it with the evil uncertainties of the nether-worlds. Solid take on the movie, though, sir.

  4. riverpearl says:

    I don’t like horror films and was disturbed at the previews that I sat through before watching this one. It seems I’m in the minority but I liked the atmosphere and visuals in this one, the pacing and using my imagination a little.

    It’s your blog, but I don’t mind the length of your reviews and I enjoy reading them.

    • r361n4 says:

      I’m not a horror fan either so as far as the genre goes a 6.0 is on the high end for me. Anyways its nice to see one every now and then that doesn’t rely just on gore for scares (plus I like everything better when its British/Irish, lol)

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