The Woman in Black (2012)

The Woman in Black (2012) – I’m a horror geek. One of the great things about horror geekdom is that there are so many different corners of it that you can discover. Subgenres within subgenres. One of the corner of that is Brit horror (horror flicks from the U.K. for those who need self-explanatory things explained). In THAT subgenre the horror films of Hammer Films are well-known. They gave us icons like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (before they became Star Wars villains). Well, after a period of laying low, Hammer Films is back. Their first major release (in addition to some less major releases like Wake Wood) was the far-better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be film Let Me In in 2010. Now they’re doing an adaptation of the Susan Hill novel The Woman in Black, which has been previously adapted to the stage in 1987, to BBC radio a couple times, and as a TV movie in 1989. (Fun fact: the TV movie had Adrian Rawlins in the lead role. The 2012 version has Daniel Radcliffe. The two played father and son in the Harry Potter franchise.)

Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer and widower. His wife (Sophie Stuckey) died in childbirth so he’s a single father to their son. Those who still think of him as just a boy wizard (and who apparently didn’t see Equus) might be surprised as seeing Radcliffe take on such an adult role but in this flick he looks quite a bit older than his 22 years and his constantly dour expression suggests a man with very adult problems. Arthur has been doing crappy work in the four years since he was widowed (widowered?) and his firm gives him one last shot to take care of an estate deal in the countryside. When he arrives, the townspeople do not want him around because this is one of them towns with a dark secret. Spoiler: it’s a ghost. Maybe someone should actually tell him this early on instead of just dickishly insisting he leave town, but that doesn’t really occur to anyone. The only man who’s nice to him is local rich dude Sam (Ciarán Hinds). No one else treats him very nice. Especially not that titular ghost (the ironically-named-for-this-role Liz White).

The Woman in Black is a total throwback. It’s very much in that 1970s Brit horror vein like The Wicker Man (the original, not to be confused with the bizarre Neil LaBute remake starring Nicolas Cage). The question is whether or not a modern audience will respond to that sort of slow build horror. Any movie can make someone jump. All it requires is something happening suddenly. The Woman in Black is not above that and goes there a couple times, but overall it is more about building suspense. There is a sort of pacing though that might fall flat with audiences more used to the blood and guts of Saw than atmospheric fog and strange noises of a movie like this. Some people, however, are junkies for flicks like this and to those people I say check it out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: