Francesca Brasington reviews James Watkin’s gothic -horror film.
When reading this review please be aware that my opinions may be affected by the fact that I did not actually watch the whole film. Or at least, I’ll being analysing it based on the quarter of the film that I was able to watch without burying my face in my scarf and crying ‘OH MY GAWD/WHAT THE!?/NOOO HARRY!’
‘The Woman in Black’ has a totally conventional set-up; a recently widowed lawyer (Radcliffe) travels to a remote village to retrieve the will of a deceased hermit woman, from her creepy manor. The plot is rather predictable, but not once did I hear any yawning or boredom-induced fidgeting during the show.
Instead the film maintains your unwavering attention because each scene is engorged with those properly ludicrous gothic conventions that make you quiver with anticipation; decrepit toys, shadows, liminal settings, supernatural ghoulies, doors creaking, a muddy swamp and plenty of children being bloody weird.
Most of this is down to Jane Goldman’s screenplay which nicely balances those pivotal moments of pure terror with the necessary, explanatory scenes where context has to be begrudgingly filled in by the dowdy villagers – scenes which otherwise could have weighed down the pace of the narrative.
Although Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t get the chance to show off his broad range of thespian skills in this scare-driven work of fun, he undoubtedly did a decent job of leading the film (as the intimidating Box Office figures show). My only difficulty with this casting is that Radcliffe looks young enough to still be wearing his Hogwarts jumper and whilst the fake sideburns added a few years, it was still hard to believe that the character had a four year old son.
Ultimately, you do feel slightly foolish as you wonder how a rocking- chair can deliver possibly the scariest scene in the whole film – but this is exactly why ‘The Woman in Black’ works. The entertainment derives from the embarrassed, nervous chuckle you exchange with your friend after something goes ‘BANG!’ on screen and you involuntarily jump out of your seat, only just avoiding spraying popcorn over the person in front.
A pleasant relief from the vulgar torture-porn rhetoric of recent years, this is just a very entertaining ghost story that I would advise anyone to check out. Though do wear a scarf or hoody… just in case.