The Woman in Black – 3/5 Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Woman in Black – 3/5 – I have said before in an early review, horror films are ones that are hard to judge or critique.  In any kind of film, everything is subjective.  Even though film is subject, there are very obvious elements that must be strong in every film.  That includes story, characters and direction.  When it comes to horror films, they become even more subjective.  There are certain elements in horror films that fall behind the norm to judge, but aren’t as important to making the specific horror film great.  Some of the most obvious things that make a great horror film are an atmosphere and the main characters interaction with the horrific element.   With these being the strongest point of a horror film, The Woman in Black does provide successful elements in being a horror film.  Where the movie falls flat is bringing across a great main character and a slow developing plot.  This movie, with some great scares, doesn’t do enough to make it a great horror film.

In London, we have Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe).  He is a lawyer who is still grieving over the death of his beloved wife Stella 4 years ago.  His employer gives him one last chance to keep his job.  This job is for him to travel to the remote village of Cryphin Gifford to examine the documentation of the Eel Marsh House, belonging to the recently deceased Mrs. Drablow.  Arthur befriends Daily (Ciaran Hinds) on the train.  Arthur has a cold reception from the rest of the town folk, as they warn him not to go to the house.  However, Arthur goes to the isolated manor, even with the warnings.  When he gets there, he finds that the Eel Marsh House is haunted by a vengeful ghost of a woman dressed in black.  As the movie progresses, you learn the unraveling tale of this woman, her lost son and the children that are dying in the village.  When it comes to the acting, it is pretty much standard/generic.  No one really stands out in the spotlight, even the main character.  The main character is played by Daniel Radcliffe.  Daniel is very well known for the Harry Potter movies.  This is one of his first films outside that series of films.  You see that he steps outside of the bounds of his comfort level, and shows that he does have something more to give, acting wise, than just being the iconic ‘Harry Potter.’  He is strong at parts throughout the film, especially showing a caring mentality when it comes to being a single Father.  Other than this element, nothing else stands out.  When the haunting and scary elements come into effect, you don’t really see a real fear in his character, which is a weakness.  This makes the scary elements not as frightening, and you just find yourself watching a very boring acting job.  When it comes to the side characters, they are literally just props to move the story along.  The only side character that gets a little screen time is Daily, played by Ciaran Hinds.  His family side story does give some backdrop on the situations happening in the town, but isn’t brought across to make it important enough to care about.  Like everything else that happens in the film, it is pretty flat and just moves the story along.

The direction is another generic tone of any common, new horror film.  You have a mysterious element, everyone warns you about this element, but the character goes against their wishes and explores this element.  As the character explores this element, it unlocks the evil that was hidden.  You have in this film the unraveling mystery of why a particular ‘ghost’ is haunting the town.  As any other film, the main character figures a way to stop the ghost, and performs the task.  What this boils down is a very predictable plot, which includes the typical jump scares and dark settings.  You have your tally of dead bodies; the ominous ghost, the dark scenes and predictable climax.  The only thing that you will not see coming is the ending twist.  The ending is a little of a bittersweet feeling, but it help bring some conclusion to the main character confliction in being a single father as well as decent ending for a predictable movie.

The strength of the movie lives in its cinematography.  The portrayal of the broken down mansion, and the town is very dark and eerie.  You are engrossed in the scenery, and enjoy the exploration of the mansion.  There are some obvious cliché props found within the mansion, but the tone set against the night and the mysterious ‘woman in black’ helps keep a slight tension throughout the film.  Adding to this element is a resounding score.  The music makes you aware of the situations, and does help make you jump from time to time.  With this mix, it keeps the film entertaining from about midway till the end of the film.

Overall, this film is a pretty average horror film.  You have a character with some quality, but the story is clichéd and the other characters just act as props to move the story along.  Some of the scenery is awe inspiring, but predictable jump scares help keep the film modest.  A slight twist at the end involving the main character’s arch is nice touch, but I’d recommend this film for a rental and a good evening at home.


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