The Woman In Black (2012) Review
Well I was lucky enough to get a look at the Latest from Hammer the Woman In Black. A little while ago I posted a review of the original made for TV movie so I was eager to share my thoughts on the newest incarnation while they were both fresh in my mind.
The woman in black was directed by James Watkins, and written by Jane Goldman. The entire work was based off the 1983 Novel of the same name by Susan Hill. The real gem which I mentioned before is that the studio behind this is Hammer Film.
The story is about a young lawyer named Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) who’s sent out to a dreary village far removed from civilization. His firm handled the affairs of the EL Marsh House and its owner Jennet Humfrye is now deceased. In hopes to tie up any loose ends and prepare the house for reselling Kipps has to go through a seemingly unending collection of old papers that start to reveal the houses tragic past. Kipps wife died during childbirth and he has never fully recovered from the loss. His firm makes it clear that this assignment must be successful in order to keep his job.
When Kipps arrives in the small town he meets a friendly and wealthy landowner named Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds) who seems to be the only one in town who welcomes him with open arms. Everyone else doesn’t want anything to do with him, including the local solicitor whom he was there to meet to aid him in his work. Everyone tells him to stay away from the house and try to make sure he leaves the very same day.
Slowly Kipps starts to realize that a malevolent force is surrounding the house and that ever single one of the townspeople is keeping a terrible secret that is keeping them all in fear. It’s a story of tragic loss and unending revenge.
Radcliffe does a nice job in the roll of Kipps, and for me this was the first time seeing him do anything other than be Harry Potter. (I couldn’t help notice how much he looked like Johnny Depp though) although he honestly didn’t have much to do other than follow sounds and apparently have balls of steel. Why anyone would even consider staying alone in that house after the first day is beyond me.
The movie looks great with Lots of extremely detailed sets, the best of course being the house itself. It’s a hammer film so there is a tonne of fog to be had and cobwebs. I found myself wondering if they had a surplus of cobwebs during filming. The old woman had only been dead a short while but the house looks like it had been abandoned for decades.
One thing I remembered about the original movie was that there really was only one big scare in it. Well they sure made up for that in spades with this one. Every five minutes there was a quick cut to something random and the loudest slam of piano keys their soundtrack could muster. I hate cheap shots because it’s not really my thing to have a movie just be all “LOUD NOISES” and that’s my scare. Once and awhile is fine and effective but this film does it like it’s going out of style. That being said, it’s only a small complaint because at the very least it kept my attention.
For me the best moments of the movie were more subtle, and a lot of that is owed to the cinematography of Tim Maurice-Jones. There are some fantastically creepy scenes where something as simple as light from a candle passing across the glass eyes of a toy can make it seem like they are watching you.
A lot of things were changed from the version I saw. It had a lot more characters and a more fleshed out story that gave it a distinctly darker tone. I found myself wondering which version is more faithful to the original novel. If anyone out there knows I’d love for you to leave a comment.
In the end the complaints I have about this movie are minor and the good far outweighs them. I loved the story, the look of the film and the special effects. Everyone has done a fine job adapting this classic gothic ghost story and I hope to see other high quality stuff coming out of Hammer films. Go see it and enjoy!