75: The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black – February 3, 2012
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds
Written by: Jane Goldman
Directed by: James Watkins

The plot: “A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.” – IMDB

My thoughts: For whatever reason, I saw this at midnight on its opening day. I have considerably long days so I found myself a bit tired at the beginning of the movie. It takes a solid 20 minutes for things to really get freaky and initially, my thoughts were that it would be full of cheap scares and unfortunately turn out to be more like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Luckily, it was effectively creepy.

I give most of the creepy credit to the art department because the toys and dolls in that movie were HORRIFYING. At one point, a shot hovered over a doll with blonde hair and jagged, shark teeth and the entire theater nervously laughed. And there was a clown doll and one too many monkeys to sit comfortably with me. My friends and I all determined that the very early 1900s would not have been an idyllic time to grow up or live in. Everything seemed distinctly…evil.

The plot was a bit tired, but keep in mind, it’s based on a book from the 1980s so I would venture to guess that the whole “vengeful/unfinished ghost story” wasn’t quite as overused as it is now. I thought the film did a really good job with a plot that’s been seen countless times. And it was great that they made it so dark. Kids were seen being set on fire and spitting out blood. I think that’s at least a little disturbing.

Beyond plot and the creep-factor, there were some absolutely gorgeous landscape shots. The initial shot of the train, with rolling green fields, perfect skies, and a line of smoke coming of the train was incredible and I was awestruck at the shot of the road leading to the island. The film was really beautiful visually which is a nice change of pace for a horror/thriller movie which doesn’t always pay attention to that stuff.

And finally, the acting. Daniel Radcliffe has certainly come a long way since the first Harry Potter movies. Despite being pocket-sized, he has an intense presence on screen. Everyone was wonderful in the film and it was nice to see such a distinctly English film (Daniel Radcliffe is probably the only notable actor to mainstream American audiences) get a warm reception in America – or at least in the theater I was in. It was pretty full and people seemed to generally like it.

Stars: 4/5 (mostly due to the somewhat lackluster plot)

AND NOW, FOR A FEW SPOILERS:

For anyone who saw the film, God damn that ending! I really thought that DanRad was going to save his (totally adorable) son and the ghost would be done since someone finally saved a child! But I guess her whole “Never forgive! Never forgive!” wasn’t an exaggeration. Jennet (was that a common name in the 1800s?) meant business and she was going to kill every child she could find.

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DanRad!

The Woman In Black – February 10, 2012 (in the UK)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer
Directed by: James Watkins
Written by: Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Stardust, X-Men: First Class)

“Young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) leaves his son in London to settle the legal affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drablow. He discovers a series of inexplicable accidents and suicides have forced the parents of her village to barricade their children indoors, as if protecting them from an unseen foe. When Arthur stays the night all alone at the Drablow’s foreboding house, he hears the screams of a drowning child and sees decaying children listlessly wandering the marshes. He will soon discover these haunting figures share the same date of death, and the same killer.

The ghost of a scorned woman, who was unable to save her beloved son Nathaniel from drowning, The Woman In Black takes on a horrifying form. Set on vengeance, her veil hides gaping sockets eaten away by scavengers and her curse hides an even darker secret … whenever she is seen, a child dies.

In the face of hostility from the local residents, Arthur dredges up Nathaniel’s skeleton and buries it with his mother, hoping the evil spectre will finally rest in peace. In a cruel twist of fate, the Woman In Black turns her claws towards Arthur’s young son. To avoid a fate worse than death, Arthur must now sacrifice everything he holds dear and save his child.” – Jane Goldman, writer

Right now, there’s only a teaser which reveals pretty much nothing, but I’m excited nonetheless. I love the writing in Stardust and Kick-Ass, so I’m anticipating this being excellent. Also, Dan Radcliffe is a promising actor who is so cute I just want to put him in my pocket. It will be nice to see him in something so not Harry Potter.