The Woman in Black is a goose bump inducing, welcomingly old school ghost story sure to entertain horror fans and novices alike.
The decision of many filmmakers of late to reject recent trends in horror is a welcome one. Too long has gore trumped mood, sadistic violence chosen over a well-orchestrated scares and novelty (such as the found footage film) replaced a great ghost story.
The Woman in Black is exactly that. Based upon the classic novel by Susan Hill, this is not the first film adaptation with a 1987 made for TV production still a scary watch. Yet under the direction of John Watkins, The Woman in Black circa 2012 does what every great remake should do: give a nod to its originator, while adding new scenarios and fresh effects to appease both fans of the original and newcomers.
Indeed, there will be a lot of fresh blood that will watch The Woman in Black because it stars Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe. He plays Arthur Kipps, a widowed young lawyer who is assigned to settle the estate of a recently deceased matriarch, whose creepy old house (naturally) resides on the edge of a remote village. What Arthur finds is a town turned upside down by an evil sprit hell bent for revenge.
Radcliffe gives a solid performance in his first post-Potter outing, playing grief and trepidation very well. But the real star of The Woman in Black is Watkins and his crew.
From its disturbing opening scene to its shocking finale, The Woman in Black is a film steeped in thick atmosphere. The eerie score and Marco Beltrami and wonderfully dark photography by Tim Maurice-Jones establishes a nice sense of mood which Watkins uses to play his viewers like a puppet, and the run down house featured in the film is a nice addition to the gallery of haunted houses.
The best ghost stories are those that can build tense riddled anticipation and deliver with its payoffs, and that is exactly what Watkins does here. The Woman in Black is not the best ghost story ever made, but it is one of the purest and most effective to hit cinemas in quite a long time. That in itself makes this a film worth cherishing, goose bumps and all.