By Ben French
“The Woman in Black” opened in theaters Friday and showed
audiences a whole new side of Daniel Radcliffe, as an actor and a
new face to put to modern villains.
The film is a horror mystery story adapted by Jane Goldman from
the novel written by Susan Hill in 1983. The story is centered
around Arthur Kipps, played by Radcliffe, who lost his wife during
the birth of his son.
Kipps is losing sleep and doing poorly at work, so his boss
sends him out to a remote country village where he must tend to the
funeral of Alice Drablow and all the documents left in the Eel
Marsh House where she resided.
When Kipps shows up he notices a strange woman in black out of
the corner of his eye which is followed by the deaths of local
children due to terrible accidents. Later it is found that Drablow
had been the first in the town to lose a child and her death was
result of suicide.
As the investigation of the Drablow documents and estates moves
forward, Kipps must overcome his fears and sorrows to find a way to
complete his work and survive both the horrors of the woman in
black and the anger of the town and their belief that Kipps
responsible for the deaths of the children.
Radcliffe plays the perfect mournful, broken husband. He gives
way to not making much use of his emotional acting range, except
for the stale and painful look on his face throughout the film.
This expression shows the pain and disconnect with emotion a
would go through after losing the love of their life.
When a scene demands an emotion though, Radcliffe delivers an
interesting performance by jumping to the emotion and then slowly
shifting back into his sad and mournful state of mind. He certainly
has come a long way from his films as Harry Potter.
The acting beyond Radcliffe is well done both with supporting
characters like Kipps’ only friend in the village, Mr. Daily,
played by Ciaran Hinds, and various child actors who play both
living and dead roles throughout the film.
One of the most emotionally evoking scenes in the film is when
Kipps is in the mud of the marshland trying to pull the lost body
of Liz White’s son in order to help put her spirit to rest. From
all of the following scenes you see the patience and care the
characters put into their actions while being reverent of the dead,
despite their fear and the sense of urgency the haunting ghosts
bring to the story.
The film’s best role by far is that of the woman in black
herself, White, who while not having any actual dialogue in the
film and the constant assistance of special effects, could very
well be one of the most unsettling characters seen in any horror
film as of
You can feel the anguish of all the characters, especially
White. Even in the end, past the emotionally moving climax of the
film, with Kipps fighting to help put White’s character at ease she
still holds tight to her dark and bitter hatred in death so much
she continues her dark curse upon the children of the town
regardless of any efforts to pacify her.
The minimal use of computer graphics works to the films
advantage and when graphics are used they are blurred from the
camera perspective to give them a more realistic feel. Reliance on
traditional effects such as real objects and sounds give the film a
quality because of the natural response to those sounds and sights
that evoke fear in the average person.
The imagery, story, mood and even the few slightly humorous and
awkward scenes all play into a traditional horror story much like
that of the original book. This has the feel of stories like that
of Edgar Allen Poe, which gives credence to the skills of the
producers, writers and directors involved in the film.
This movie is more than worth watching and it is definitely
worth a purchase when it comes out on Blu-ray and in digital
The Woman in Black
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