*May Contain Spoilers*
The Woman in Black
Directed by James Watkins
In his first major role since the Harry Potter series, Daniel Radcliff seems determined to prove that he is capable of more than just the boy wizard and can be a serious leading actor in his portrayal of Arthur Kipps in this horror/thriller flick. And even though he has a long way to go until he’s nominated for a best acting award, I’m glad to see him break away from the clean cut image and try a role that will leave the audience with a sudden onset case of insomnia. In The Woman in Black, Kipps is a young lawyer and single father who is still heavily troubled by the passing of his wife who died in childbirth four years before. He travels to a remote English village for his law firm and settle the final affairs of the late Mrs. Alice Drablow who lived at the Eel Marsh House and is immediately unwelcomed by the superstitious villagers. When he begins his work at the manor, only accessible at certain parts of the day because the long winding lane leading to the house is covered by high tide, the woman in black makes her appearance before teasing him for a while with springy leaks from the faucet and noises all around the house. The premise and gothic, isolated house are a great set up for a scary movie, and in many ways, the film does deliver in the suspense department but then falls flat in other ways such as the acting and story line. Something I’ve always respected about suspense movies is the way they are filmed; no other genre of movies has camera work like a scary movie. They are almost always shot with the photography as the main focus in storytelling. Often when a character, such as Kipps, investigates a spooky noise in a dark room, the camera enters the room in with the view of the character so we see exactly what he sees. In this way, the audience experiences the terror, or lack of terror, as soon as the character does and with the combination of camera work and a soundtrack that sends shrieking-Psycho like shrilling notes to your ears, it’s impossible not to be jumpy. In Woman in Black, Watkins replacing gore and violence with suspense so thick that some scenes are almost unbearable to keep watching. Psychological effects are also used to scare such as creepy inanimate dolls that play eerie songs when they are wound up with a twist of the knob on their backs. Even scarier, these dolls creep you out to know end when they play all by themselves with no one to wind them up. Woman in Black has plenty of moments worthy of covering your eyes and it tells the story brilliantly and in a classic horror way, but when you examine the story line and acting job, that’s when you’ll find flaw within the film. My problem with Radcliff isn’t that he is too young to be a father of a four year old as some other people have criticized, but it’s the fact that he was unresponsive to the reality of what he was dealing with.
”Oh what’s that sound out there? Better go see what it was.”
"Oh there’s a person in the house I thought was completely vacant, better go inside again."
He loops around the property so much it becomes dizzying, and what’s worse, the sounds and image he keeps seeing would make any normal person refuse to go near the property with a 10 foot pole. But then again, we wouldn’t have a movie, would we? If there had been just a few more moments when Radcliff was actually scared to death (instead of saying a line like, “I think I’ll work through the night” instead of leaving the house when it was evening time or when he decides it’s time to take a nap right after having a terrifying experience and seeing a shrieking woman in the window), I might like him more as a responsive actor instead of one just reading a script. Let’s hope the more movies he stars in, the more he should actually respond to the things going around him. But with his past movie roles as Harry Potter and being as young as he is, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of Daniel Radcliff in the near future.