‘The Woman in Black’ leaves audience in the dark
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 13, 2012 01:02
"The Woman in Black," directed by James Watkins and starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter, managed to be a fairly decent horror flick – at least until the end. Let's start at the beginning, though.
"The Woman in Black" is based on a horror novel by Susan Hill, and is the second adaption, the first of which was a made-for-TV movie in 1989.
The story focuses on Arthur Kipps, a London-based lawyer. He is assigned to finish the final paperwork following the death of an elderly woman in her isolated home outside a rural town. On his arrival, he is met with hostility by the townspeople, and so spends the night in the late widow's home.
Unbeknownst to him, the house is haunted by the ghost of a relative of the widow, who takes the opportunity to strike back, not at Kipps, but at the townspeople.
Radcliffe's acting was not up to par with what the role demanded. In a similar way as Tom Hanks in "Castaway," much of the movie takes place in an isolated location. Radcliffe was the only actor on-screen during most of the scenes in the house.
He needed to draw the audience into his world and make them identify with him without the use of any dialogue at all. Radcliffe was not up to the task.
While his interactions with other characters were fine, his acting during his solitary scenes was more than a little wooden.
My impression of the movie was that most of it took place in the background. After the first couple minutes of exposition and dialogue, you're mostly left watching Radcliffe wander around an empty house.
But it turns out that that's all right, because everything interesting is happening behind Radcliffe where only the audience can see it.
Seeing movement out of the corner of your eye, a shadow in a mirror that shouldn't be there and a door opening on its own, all behind the actor, creates a great atmosphere.
The movie did manage some pure, high-octane nightmare fuel. One of the minor plot points to the opening scene of the movie is a locked door that leads to a nursery.
Now, this is a nursery reminiscent of the late 1800s/early 1900s. People had some weird ideas about what would be a fun toy. The creators of these toys were just flat out insane, though.
They all wind up, producing motion, and every single one of them has the creepiest face you've ever seen in your life.
Some of the highlights are a monkey playing the maracas, a clown trying to play a flute and a monkey playing a harp.
All of these are dressed in classic circus clothes. The description fails to capture the sheer uncanniness of these dolls.
As for the ending, it was horrendous. It was, without a doubt, one of the worst horror movie endings I have ever seen. The sad part is, it could have been great.
All of the elements were there for a spectacular ending that left the audience slightly uncomfortable. There could have been an ending that gave viewers nightmares of the lady in black coming after them.
Unfortunately, they ruined it by throwing a silly after-death scene into the middle of it. Yes, the elements of that scene were foreshadowed a little bit at the beginning, but it really felt forced and awkward.
So, all in all, "The Woman in Black" was a decent movie. I would pretend that the awkward post-death scene didn't actually happen, and the cut went straight to a close up of the woman in black at the end.
That would have been a spectacular ending. At least "The Woman in Black" will make a decent excuse to cuddle up next to your Valentine's date.