Movie Review: The Woman in Black (2012)

Posted: July 4, 2012 in Drama


Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a widowed lawyer living in London, with his young son, Joseph (Misha Handley) and a young nanny.  Arthur doesn’t have a lot of money, so he needs to take a job in a small town outside London.  Arthur is tasked to put the estate of the recently deceased Mrs. Drablow.   Arthur meets a helpful man named Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds, who invites him to stay with him and his wife, Mrs. Daily (Janet McTeer)  Mrs. Daily has also lost a son, and believes her son speaks through her.  Daily warns Arthur not to get too deeply involved in the estate of Mrs. Drablow.  But Arthur jumps right in, essentially living in the estate for four days, day and night.  The more he digs into the estate, the more Arthur finds out about a rift between Mrs Drablow, and her sister Janet (Liz White).  The more he digs into the Drablow  family feud the more kids seem to die in the village.  Arthur thinks he sees a shadowy woman dressed in black while he’s in the Drablow estate, but Mr. Daily thinks that anything otherworldly that may be occurring are just superstitious stories spread by scared, mourning townspeople.  Who is the woman in black that Arthur sees?  Is she an apparition? Or is Arthur just overworked and missing his son?

As much as I wanted to like this movie, because of the strong cast, of Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarian Hinds, and Janet McTeer, the story was nothing exceptional.  Man stays in an old creaky house alone for days, thinks he sees a mysterious woman, there are doors that won’t open in a certain room, and bodies piling up in the village.  There is nothing new or particularly scary about this horror movie. There is atmosphere aplenty and it seems to be building to something, but the payoff is anticlimactic, almost an afterthought.  Daniel Radcliffe tries his best to raise this movie above the average horror movie, as does McTeer and Hinds, but the source material, the screenplay, betrays everyone. Some of the movie is unintentionally funny.  What was I expecting from a PG-13 horror movie?  They are almost never scary.    As an aside, this movie was set in Victorian England, and when I saw Radcliffe get on a train in an early scene, I thought to myself, “Is he going to Hogwarts, again?”  If only this movie was as good as any of the Harry Potter movies, it would have been a treat.  But instead, The Woman in Black about as bland as Sheppard’s Pie.
The Woman in Black.  Not dark enough.

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