Wednesday, May 30, 2012
The Woman in Black (2012)
It's a movie we both wanted to see for some time. We decided against seeing it in the theatres because the person working the ticket counter warned us that the audience was made up of 13 to 16 year olds. Although watching them all burst into tears seeing Harry Potter in a horror film might have been worth the price of admission.
And that's the other thing Daniel Radcliffe is actually very good in this film. I'm sure it's going to be difficult to shed the Harry Potter image after eight films. But he makes a decent effort at it in this film.
That and it's always nice to see a lead actor in a film under 5'11" seeing that Hollywood tends to go in a direction of 6' and up.
Not only was it a decent effort from Young Master Radcliffe, it was actually a very good effort from Hammer in their first really big picture since 1979.
Based on a novel originally written by Susan Hill, Radcliffe plays a young solicitor named Arthur Kipp who has come to a remote village to handle the estate of Alice Drablow who owned Eel Marsh House. Alice lived at the house with her husband, son Nathaniel and her sister Jennet. We soon come to discover Nathaniel to be Jennet's real mother. Alice had taken Nathaniel away from her sister believing her to be unfit. After Nathaniel's death in the marsh, Jennet hangs herself in the nursery.
But it wouldn't be a horror film if there wasn't a spooky twist. Since Jennet's son was taken from her, whenever anyone sees her ghostly form, known to the villagers as the Woman in Black, a child in the village dies in a way right out of Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
Arthur witnesses this soon after his first encounter with the Woman in Black when a young girl is brought to the police station by her brothers having consumed a bottle of lye
Very much like classic Hammer, the film tended to be a bit slow going in the beginning. It also had some of the trappings of the classic Hammer Films, such as people from the village being particularly unfriendly towards Arthur Kipp with only one or two people showing him kindness. One being the wife of the innkeeper who lost her three daughters because of the Woman in Black and the other's a wealthy landowner Sam Daily and his wife who lost their son to as well to this vengeful spectre.
Of course it wouldn't be Hammer if there wasn't some slight deviation from the original story. But like any great Hammer film such as Dracula or Frankenstein, the changes made do not ruin the movie. And even though I suspected the ending, I was still surprised by it. Because they threw in a double twist. Just when you 're sure one thing happened, something else happens and then you realize the one thing you initially thought happened actually happened.
As far as atmosphere, it's probably the level of gothic creepiness that Hammer always wanted and now can achieve because of budget and advances in special effects. However, what made classic Hammer fun to watch was the fact that it was campy and gory. Maybe not always scary, but the gore was always over the top in a very operatic way that make those film captivating to watch. Not to mention some memorable performances by Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in those films.
But I enjoyed the Woman in Black and I hope this is thebeginning of a new cycle of films for Hammer. I have heard there's already a follow up to the Woman in Black in the works. And I heard whispers another classic Hammer series Dracula might be rising from the grave.
However, for me personally I wouldn't mind seeing Hammer take another stab at Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps instead of The Hound of the Baskervilles, they do their treatment to A Study in Scarlet or The Sign of Four.
But I'd highly recommend you stop by your local Redbox Kiosk and pick up a copy. You can even check it's availability on their website: