I Saw A Film Today… The Woman in Black

If there has been something lost in the corridors and darkened rooms of cinemas over the years, it has been the art of horror and romantic-comedies. Both genres have fallen victim to recycling the same-old played out formula. There’s nothing truly terrifying or original about them. And it’s not just a few of them, it’s all. I wish Hollywood would take a small hiatus from making these films. But that’s not happening anytime soon, as The Woman in Black has proved.

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Although Arthur Kipps (Danial Radcliffe) life has been a relatively short one it has been a rather tragic one. While in labor birthing his son, Arthur’s wife (Sophie Stuckey) died and now he must raise him on his own with financial issues to boot. This while also trying to stay employed at his firm.

To prove his worth to his boss (the underutilized Roger Allam), Arthur is asked to handle the estate of one Mrs. Alice Drablow, who owned Eel Marsh House in the north of England. Upon arrival Kipp is greeted with nothing but hostility except from realist Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds). It is soon revealed that the reason for the hostility is that they believe Eel house is a curse on their stereotypical English Edwardian village. And the villagers don’t take it well when Arthur goes nosing through the past of the home.

Instead of being entertained or terrified by this film, I instead spent most of my time trying to work out questions. Like, why do the villagers continue to live in their village if they fear that a woman dressed in black will force their children to commit suicide? Or why does an average Joe or Jane always feel the need to become a detective whenever something spooks them? Most people would be well out the door if a yelling face appeared out of nowhere.

This isn’t the only issue with this cookie cutter horror flick. There are moments where things happen exclusively for the viewer. For example, there is a scene where Mr. Radcliffe is standing in the window observing the landscape. Then, out of nowhere the woman in black’s face appears right behind him. Chilling. Yet Dan never even knows she was there outside of shrugging of a chill sent up his back. I wouldn’t really take this as an issue if this film was meant to be interactive with the audience but it’s really not.

There are one or two good things to mention. Instead of rushing straight for the gore, the film instead relies heavily on chills and scares. But there again the thrills fall victim to the cookie-cutter format and it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. The other well executed aspect of this film were some of the performances. Daniel Radcliffe is pretty good here. It’ll be a while before he’ll move out of the shadow of Potter but he is a talented young man.

The other actor who does well is Ciarán Hinds, who many of the teens will recognize him from Harry Potter 7 as Aberforth Dumbledore. Then again, they may have been too busy checking Facebook updates to even notice that Dan Radcliffe was in the film. But Mr. Hinds is a great actor and I expect that Roger Allam would have been great here as well. That is, if he had been in it longer than 45 seconds. As for the woman in black, her performance was soulless. No seriously, she was completely CGI. In fact, the CGI was rather dated and some of the worst I’ve seen in years.

The Woman in Black was quite a letdown. Many people came out saying it was “like, supa scary”. And even though there are moments that purposefully set to creep you out, but  it wasn’t anything you wouldn’t expect.

Verdict: SKIP IT!

*Rated PG-13 for thematic material and violence/disturbing images.

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