The Woman in Black is an old-fashioned ghost story set in a remote English village at the turn of the 20th century. It is produced by Hammer Films, best known for their stylish B-Movie horror flicks of the ’60s and ’70s, and although this movie has a great Gothic look and feel, it is barely a step above the average Hammer fare.
The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as the widowed Arthur Kipps, an attorney sent to settle the affairs of a deceased owner of a very cool and creepy castle, located on an island that is completely cut off from civilization during high-tide. Mr. Kipps must complete this assignment, which basically involves ruffling through papers, or risk losing his employment. Let’s just say that to put up with everything he endures in this film, he must REALLY want to keep this job.
The haunted hero slowly unravels a mystery that involves a woman whose son is adopted by an upper-class couple who deny her visitation with the boy. When her child dies in a horrific accident, she commits suicide and her ghost then haunts the castle and the village, possessing children and leading them to kill themselves. To keep the evil veiled ghost from going after his own son, Arthur devises a plan to appease the disgruntled demon -– and without giving away any surprises, this is where the movie goes off the deep end.
Radcliffe provides a fine performance and he certainly has a film future beyond Harry Potter, and were it not for his involvement I don’t think this movie would have ever seen the light of a theater projector. There are preposterous plot points, as well as dumb dialogue, that make you cringe more than any of the horror aspects of The Woman in Black.
In this day and age, after a history of hundreds of haunted house films being made, it is very difficult for a movie to showcase something new and unusual enough create real fear in an audience. The Woman in Black covers no new ground in that regard. It’s a somewhat fun horror flick, but too laughable to be taken seriously.