The Woman in Black Review

Movie: The Woman in Black
By: Maniac E
Date: January 14, 2012

Hammer Film is back!

Ghost stories were immensely popular in England during the Victorian era. During this period the gothic novel began as a literary genre to its (preliminary) final thrust. Vengeful ghosts, eccentrics and abandoned houses mourning invariably belonged to the palette that colored their stories writers. Notable examples from this horror literature, The Haunted House (1859) by Wilkie Collins and The House by the Churchyard (1863) by JS Le Fanu. The Woman in Black (the book not the movie) fits perfectly in that row, with the only difference that the horror novel by Susan Hill was just written a hundred years later.

Fortunately, The Woman in Black (the movie, not the book) anno 2012 boast a solid script by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) and the excellent direction of James Watkins (Eden Lake). It works without causing any significant damage to the original source material. So yes, Radcliffe was Harry Potter and probably be Harry Potter to most viewers. But in my point of view he did a good job showing us that he can do more than just Harry Potter. Of course, it is hard to believe that Radcliffe is a father but doesn't take away that his performance as an actor suffers by this fact.


I actually liked the acting from almost all actors in the movie. They all did their parts, but this movie isn't without clichés and it shows. Are they clichés you can look through, yes. Viewing the credits of director James Watkins, it is very interesting to see that instead of sticking to an "old faithful" and making a second version of his "Chav Horror" Eden Lake, Watkins instead took a risk that has paid off handsomely. For the haunting Edwardian setting of the film, Watkins and Guy Richie's former cinematography Tim Maurice-Jones cover the film in a bold white and grey mist, which along with creating a tense atmospheric sense of mystery also makes the moments when "the ink" spills across the screen stand out very strongly.


Whilst he does show that he can create a fantastic mood, Watkins also shows that when it comes to spine tingling shock she can truly deliver. Despite having seen the film around a week ago, almost all of the terrifying moments are still fresh in my mind, (and also still making it pretty hard for me to get some sleep!)thanks to Watkins building a huge amount of oncoming dread and tension up to the maximum point, where a vessel is open to give each shock maximum impact. Whilst the elegant screenplay by Jane Goodman (who interestingly, has written an ending for the film which almost looks like a more cheerful take on the ending of Sam Rami's Drag Me To Hell) only gives a rough sketch to the main characters life, I found that this actually made me really connect to the film.


A ghost story that isn’t unique but also doesn’t drowns itself in self-pity and a tremendous mess, the movie is set up in a way that people can follow it. It goes to show that it wasn’t a light production and it was really a big deal to all that worked on the movie. The movie isn’t without flaws some of the scare effects have been done over and over, clichés are all around, but look through it a bit and you see a classic ghost horror story movie. So after “Wake Wood” the first new production of Hammer Film that ended up being an okay movie, “The Woman in Black” surpasses it at all fronts. This just leaves me saying with HAMMER FILM IS BACK, let’s hope they can keep up the work.



The Woman in Black


The Woman in Black


James Watkins





Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer and Ciarán Hinds