Interested in giving yourself the creeps one of these pre-Halloween nights? Although it was released a decade ago, The Woman in Black, directed by James Watkins and written by Jane Goldman, has lost none of its chilling, supernatural edge.
Daniel Radcliffe stars as Arthur Kripps, a solicitor in turn of the century England who has been tasked with settling the details of an estate sale in the country’s remote marshlands. Kripps, still dealing with the loss of his wife, who died 4 years prior, quickly finds himself ill-received in the local village. The townsfolk seem suspicious, superstitious and secretive. The situation does not improve as he begins to explore Eel Marsh House, the estate he is preparing for sale. After a handful of unsettling occurrences and supernatural hallucinations, Kripps comes to believe that there is a dark, angry presence still lurking within Eel Marsh House. He soon comes to understand what the villagers have known all along. Whatever is still inhabiting the halls of Eel Marsh House is vengeful and it intends to have its revenge upon the village children.
I found this movie to be the perfect appetizer for the buffet of horror I have planned to watch over the rest of October. Not at all bloody or heavy handed, Woman in Black is instead a slow burn, foregoing big jump scares in favor of a persistent, tingling dread. The director, Watkins, does a good job pacing the film, parsing out scary details just slowly enough to build suspense without losing the interest of the audience. Cinematographer Tim Maurice-Jones creates a suffocating, suspenseful atmosphere that is immersive enough, at times, that you can feel the fog closing around you. However, the movie rests upon the strength of Radcliffe’s performance, who spends much of the film with nothing more to react to than sputtering candlesticks and empty, shadowy rooms. Despite this, his performance is energetic and engaging, his growing unease infecting the viewer as he cautiously moves from room to room. Radcliffe’s efforts are bolstered by an excellent supporting cast, particularly Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer, playing a wealthy couple who appear to be Arthur Kripp’s only allies in his battle of wills against the supernatural.
Adapted from Susan Hill’s 1983 novel of the same name, The Woman in Black is an eerie and excellent ghost story that will likely haunt you at least until All Hallow’s Eve, if not beyond.