The Woman in Black – Film Review

(Written for Rough Cut Reviews)

Starring Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, The Woman in Black is based on Susan Hill’s 1983 horror fiction of the same name, which was later adapted on to the London stage.

The gothic horror follows the narrative of young solicitor Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), who is summoned to Eel Marsh House in the North East of England to handle the estate of its owner; Alice Drablow. Located on an island in the marshes, Kipps starts work on the paperwork but soon begins to hear strange noises from the room above.

Although the house is deemed to be empty, the locals soon become unwelcoming, and urge Kipps to return back to London. During his stay at the house, Kipps begins to experience a number of sightings of a woman dressed entirely in black, which the locals believe to be linked to a number of young deaths in their local village.

Directed by British screenwriter James Watkins (Eden Lake), The Woman in Black is a stylish old-fashioned project from the revived studio Hammer Film Productions (Let Me In), which blends traditional horror hallmarks and motifs with modern horror techniques. Tense throughout, the plot, set in Edwardian times, is often clichéd, whilst at times struggling to fill in a handful of plot holes.

The casting of Radcliffe is also poor, and makes for an unconvincing young father that Kipps portrays. Being his first film since the Harry Potter franchise, the stigma surrounding Radcliffe has weakened the portrayal of Kipps, which could have worked more successfully with an unknown taking the lead. Furthermore the latter half of the film is rushed, adopting a sudden change in pace that doesn’t blend well with the plot up to this point.

Supported by a quality cast, that includes Roger Allam, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer and Liz White, The Woman in Black winds up a genuinely spine-tingling story that makes way for a tense British horror film.

Watch the trailer for The Woman in Black below:

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