Film Review

Woman in Black offers delightful sense of doom

Daniel Radcliff shows poise in graduating from Harry Potter role

The audience shares shocks and frights throughout the time Radcliff's character is wandering the blackened mansion. Photo: CBS Films

The adaptation of the popular British novel The Woman in Black written by Susan Hill in 1983, is a now a film for North American moviegoers to experience. Audiences in England have come to know this story well; adapted to be the U.K.'s second-longest running stage play.

The new film version is a remake of The Woman in Black (1989); for the updated version, the movie stars Daniel Radcliff, playing the main character, Arthur Kipps.   Fans of the Harry Potter character will likely be curious to see Radcliff playing an adult role. Kipps is a lawyer and a father to a young son, who is sent by his firm in London, England, to a remote a village to settle an estate, and prepare paperwork for its sale. Unknown to him; many villagers believe the mansion is haunted by a woman who lived there alone for years, after losing her son in a horrific accident. Soon after the death of the woman, villagers start to suspect she has cursed their village.

The grey-sky backdrop of England sets the tone of the film to be depressing, but it is once inside the mansion that audiences feel an intense sense of doom.  From the time Radcliff's character enters the mansion, to the end of the film, candles and oil lamps, and on occasion, windows, are the only source of light seen on the screen.  Radcliff 's character does leave the mansion throughout the film, so that helps break up the potentially tiresome atmosphere.

The film is quiet and suspenseful, with the audience sharing mutual shocks and frights throughout the time Radcliff's character is wandering within the blackened mansion.

Radcliff does have a strong poise on screen, as a character who is determined to prove himself to his law firm.  His interactions with other actors are limited and that could be one downside to this film. The movie at one point turns into a ghost hunt, and grave digging mystery, changing the pace of the film. It seems like the film goes to an extreme to create eerie visuals, but then ruins the tone of the movie in what seems like an unnecessary attempt to bring closure to the story.

The haunted mansion is exceptionally creepy in this film. Audiences want to be scared when they go to a movie that has been advertised "not to be watched alone."  The woman (dressed all in black) haunting the mansion is usually lurking somewhere on the screen with Radcliff in the forefront, giving the audience a thrill every few minutes.

The Woman in Black could be compared to a movie called The Others (2001), in setting and character development. Like The Others, this film's characters have a manner of eeriness about each of them that helps to create the overall uneasiness throughout the film.  Its similarities may attest to the fact that a good supernatural story requires certain elements that keep moviegoers coming back for more.  With an eerie story, the full theatre of moviegoers did receive their share of scares, and it was certainly worth the price of a movie ticket.

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