The Woman in Black is an amazing return to form from HAMMER Films. It is the first great horror film of 2012.
First off...I just want to say what a delight it is to watch the new HAMMER Films logo back on the screen again. It's a tad Marvel-ish...but, I love how all the letters fill in with that blood red...pretty cool stuff.
The premise is a pretty intriguing one. The film opens on a disturbing note as three young girls are sent plummeting to their deaths due to an unknown dark force. This sets the tone for the film as we soon meet Daniel Radcliffe's Arthur Kipps. He's a London attorney in the early 1900's who has apparently suffered a grave tragedy in his life. A widower who has to deal with the circumstances of a single parent much too early in life. He is tasked by his law firm to travel up to a desolate town in the middle of nowhere and settle the estate of Alice Drablow, who owned one of the creepiest movie mansions you'll ever encounter in any film.
The film takes it's time to get going, which is crucial for the atmosphere set throughout the story. We learn that anyone who sees the titular "woman in black" encounters really bad shit. Like the kinda shit that makes little kids get dead all around. There's much more to that particular subplot...but, I don't wanna spoil anything for you. Let's just say that the "woman in black" misses her child and makes up for her tragic loss by taking other people's children. It's a particularly eerie concept for any parent.
Daniel Radcliffe does a fine job of making you forget who Harry Potter is. I'm probably the only person in the entire universe who hasn't sat through a Harry Potter film...so, maybe I just didn't have the Potter mystique in mind while watching The Woman in Black. However, I did watch the film with a Potter fan who pretty much said the same thing. Radcliffe is a good actor and he will be one of the lucky few who goes on to do great work in the film industry despite his iconic start in the business. He plays the pivotal role of Kipps in the film and allows you to focus in on his plight throughout the story.
The magnificent Cirian Hinds shows up early to lend his talents as Sam Daily, a wealthy individual who has undergone some family tragedy all his own. He helps Kipps throughout the film and provides a solid supporting role that you end up rooting for, as well. It's an important feat to cast amazing actors and actresses in an genre film, as it lends a credibility...much like the older HAMMER films did with Cushing and Lee.
The Woman in Black looks absolutely stunning...thanks to the cinematography of Tim Maurice-Jones. His camera lens sinks its teeth in you and allows you to soak in the sheer Gothic beauty while creating an unsettling environment set in a British Victorian era. The film should win an Academy award strictly for the set designs alone.
In all...The Woman in Black is a completely enjoyable haunted house film with only minor detrimental aspects which mostly consists of too familiar jump scares and uninspired concepts. It sometimes gets a little bogged down during places where you feel you've been to already in countless other films. And the film is only PG13...which skimps vastly on the gore. However, these are more complaints in the way that a gymnast sticks a routine perfectly...even though it wasn't a difficult routine. Even the ending will, no doubt, feel reminiscent of The Orphanage.
Still...I would recommend The Woman in Black whole-heartedly to any horror fan. Especially the HAMMERheads out there. It is a film that brings you back to that much missed HAMMER style of filmmaking as well as entertain on an elegant level. Not to be missed!
Thanks for reading,