Monday, February 06, 2012

The Woman in Black - a ghostly thriller

I was fortunate to see The Woman in Black in a Carmike Cinema "BigD" theater, offering a big screen and enhanced surround sound.

That meant the haunted house Danial Radcliff was exploring filled one wall of the cinema, and all of the creaks and bumps were right next to me.

It was a good way to see a ghostly thriller that puts some of the eerie tropes that have been making audiences jump anew,in flicks like Insidious and Paranormal Activity, back in the Edwardian era in creepy style. 

The tale focuses on Radcliff as grief-stricken lawyer Arthur Kipps who's sent to an isolated seaside village to organize the papers of a recently-deceased client. Despondent over his wife's death, the assignment is sort of a last chance from senior partners.

He finds most villagers unreceptive to his presence and is soon working to unravel a dark mystery that ties the history of his firm's client to contemporary deaths that appear accidental. His one ally is the great CiarĂ¡n Hinds in a non-villainous role.

The film's at its best when Kipps is alone in the house, piecing together past events amid encounters with strange presences including the title figure, a well-realized image of darkness.

Eerie moments including the sudden gaze from a ghost through a zoetrope device deliver real chills even to a jaded film viewer.  Other period toys in general are used to great effect.

It's all wonderfully unsettling, with some intense moments and a period set-piece that provides a tense climax.

In the end, the plot may not be 100 percent satisfying. I've not read the Susan Hill novel nor seen the original BBC adaptation, but I wondered if the ending was from the page.

It's still a great ride, though, especially for those who appreciate the roots of the modern horror genre. It's also a great chance to see Radcliff transition to non-Harry Potter roles with a character that shouldn't disappoint fans.


Charles Gramlich said...

It definitely looks good. Reading Scars and Candy by the way. Good stuff so far. I'm on the story with the lady writer and the green eyes in the field

Sidney said...

Glad you got it. That story is set at an apartment Robert Petitt used to live in back in the day.

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