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Film Review: The Woman in Black.

The scariest film of the year? Click here to read a review for James Watkins’s “The Woman in Black”


After losing his wife during childbirth, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffle), a young solicitor, is sent away from his beautiful 4 year old son and the hussle and bussle of London life to the remote seaside village of Crythin Gifford. Here, he has been asked to go through the paperwork of a recently deceased woman who lived in an isolated and aesthetically terrifying house. When he arrives, Kipps finds that this abandoned house holds more than paperwork, but life destroying secrets.


Based on Susan Hill’s bleak Victorian ghost story, The Woman in Black does not leave the audience hopeful for the welfare of the townsfolk in Crythin Gifford. In fact, it makes you want to jump into the screen and tell them to run far away! The film starts off with this slow motion sequence of three little girls plummeting to their deaths with the most ear piercing scream and shouts exclaiming, “my babies”, putting the audience on edge almost instantly in the first 2 minutes of screen time. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t light up. The whole film is tense, petrifying and just pure creepy!

Even though Watkins’s version is not absolutely faithful to the original text, it still manages to evoke fear into the most cynical of spectators. With the isolated old house surrounded by graves, the frightening, unprovoked rocking chair scene, the old Victorian toys with an apparent mind of their own and the dense fog that emits claustrophobia, this film is not for the faint-hearted. In the original text, Arthur Kipps is an optimistic character that is gradually brought down by the haunted house. Whereas, Radcliffe plays an already empty man that is battling with internal as well as external ghosts. This lack of happiness in the characters adds a bleakness to the narrative, leaving the audience feeling ultimately hollow hours after the film has ended.

Hints of paranormal activity are without a doubt creeper than blood and gore and this film is not scared to let the audience’s imagination run riot. With Kipps tiptoeing down the empty corridors with only a candle to light his way, the audience know something is going to happen (or not going to happen) and are unsettled constantly. Even the ending is a shock to the system!

I have to applaud the use of camerawork in this film, it is perfect. In the scene, where Kipps enters the nursery in fear of a thumping noise, the light from the candle is reflected in the eyes of the eerie Victorian toys, making them appear alive and to be following his every move. Perfectly disturbing!

However, I can’t help but think the casting for this film is a little off. With the Harry Potter franchise only finishing last year, Daniel Radcliffe still embodies a 17 year old wizard to me. Throughout the film I just kept waiting for the appearance of Dumbledore to save the day or Radcliffe to use his wand to fight of the unnatural spirits. Evidently, this never happens, but personally I believe it is going to be a long time yet before Radcliffe can shake his wizard alter-ego. Ciaran Hinds plays the sceptical Sam Daily with authenticity and class. While Janet McTeer plays the mentally ill and possessed wife almost too well, making her on par with the ghost on the synester scale.


If you enjoy being scared out of your wits then this frightfest is for you. But trust me when I tell you this, you won’t be sleeping properly for a while after.


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