The Woman In Black: "Have You Seen Her? The Woman In Black? She Once Lost A Boy, And Now She's Come Back"

Director: James Watkins
Writer:    Jane Goldman
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe
               Ciaran Hinds
               Janet McTeer
               Sophie Stuckey
               Misha Handley
               Tim McMullan
               Jessica Raine
               Liz White
Rating:    ****

Release Date: Out Now

The Woman in Black does an absolutely fantastic job of building tension and generating suspense, it provides audiences with the thrills, spills and chills that the novel and play have been providing so successfully over the years. Unfortunately this film really manages to show off the lack of depth in Daniel Radcliffes performances, as well as dealing with a script that is fairly lacking.

The script is based on Susan Hill's novel and has been adapted by the brilliant Jane Goldman, it sees London-based solicitor Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) as he travels to a remote village. He is heading there for work, and must resolve the affairs of a recently deceased woman who owned a mansion, however his naive presence in the village does not get a good reception from the locals. As he sets to work strange things begin to happen to him in the mansion, then before long a mysterious woman dressed in black emerges from the shadows to place the village's children in severe danger. 

Dark secrets emerge along the way, but the main focus of the movie is following Arthur's spine-tingling experiences as he engrosses himself in the spooky surroundings. Unfortunately, most of the film is centred on Radcliffe's performance and close up shots of his reactions, and due to his severe lack of range this becomes a big struggle.  The other big issue with him being cast is the fact that it is almost impossible to believe or buy inot the fact that he has a 7 year old child. There are so many other well rounded and older actors that could have done this role so much more justice.

His quick breathing and forced concern/worry/fear get pretty distracting, and though it may have worked for the Harry Potter movies, now it fails quite severely. Luckily director, James Watkins, uses his skills to try and salvage the poor acting, with the clever use of objective and POV shots, which integrate us into the action as both a participant and observer. As Arthur's helpful guide Daily, (Hinds) lends suitably mellow and strong support.

Watkins, who showed promise with his 'chavs on a rampage' Brit horror Eden Lake, times the scares perfectly and manages to make the several unexpected jumps really effective, just when you feel it's safe to relax. Helping the scary moments is the haunting score by the brilliant composer Marco Beltrami (Scream series), Watkins also uses the eerie and deserted landscape to add to the tense feel of the film, and captures all of this with true perfection.

Despite the many scares and jump-out-of-your-seat moments, the lack of storyline really lets the film down. I've seen the stage show (not read the book), but there were so many parts in the play that were missing from the film that it left me wanting a little bit more. Also the romantic Hollywood ending really annoyed me, why mess with a good thing people!? Even some backstory involving flashbacks of Arthur's past fails to muster up the desired emotion's the studio were hoping to get.

While The Woman in Black is not necessarily the brilliant plot-driven journey that I had initially hoped for, there are more than enough terrifying moments to make this a great horror movie; and for a film rated 12, it's frigging petrifying. If you allow yourself to be taken over by the eerie tone and haunting music, then there is every chance you will be consistently gripped for this impressive modern day look into old-school horror.

The Woman in Black - Trailer