Friday, February 3, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: The Woman in Black

This review of "The Woman in Black" was written by guest blogger Liz Parker...

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of "scary movies." I usually avoid them, but since Harry Potter (erm ... Daniel Radcliffe) was in this one, and one of my friends really wanted to see it, I decided to attend the screening. The Woman in Black has a few "jump in your seat"-type moments, but for the most part it was fairly tame compared to other horror movies I have seen. The acting in the film, though, was very good.

Lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe, the Harry Potter series) has a four-year old son, whose mother, Arthur's wife, died in childbirth. His firm has asked him to go to the Eel Marsh house to sort through some papers belonging to the recently deceased inhabitant. When he arrives, Arthur is strongly encouraged to return to London immediately; Mr. Daily (Ciáran Hinds, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) says that he will mail him the paperwork. Arthur doesn't want to get fired, though, so he insists on being taken to the house, where he begins to see signs of the "woman in black" who haunts the marsh and the house.

Arthur later finds out that the woman in black was the not-entirely sane Jennet, who was forced to give her child over to her sister, the recently deceased inhabitant of Eel Marsh. The child drowned in the marsh one day and Jennet never forgave her sister. Jennet hung herself in the house and now, whenever someone sees her ghost, she forces one of the children in the town to kill him/herself; the same day that Arthur arrives and sees her, one of the town children drinks lye and ends up dead. Mr. Daily begs Arthur to return home, but now he is more convinced than ever than he needs to go through the paperwork and complete his job there.

Daniel Radcliffe is very good in this movie - between the proper period clothes (the film takes place in the late 1800s or early 1900s) and his sideburns, it was easy to see him as Arthur rather than Harry Potter. Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) has a small part as Mrs. Daily, but this film is mostly a one-man show, since for most of it, Radcliffe is wandering around in the huge Eel Marsh house by himself, save for the company of Mr. Daily's dog in a few scenes (and, of course, the woman in black).

Maybe see this film. It's actually based on a play, which in turn was based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Susan Hill, and I've heard that the play was very good; however, the movie could have been better. I can't vouch for all horror movie fans, but I would have been okay with it being more terrifying, even though the "woman in black" herself was definitely scary. I would even say that the commercials for the movie, especially the ones with the children voiceover, makes the film seem scarier than it actually was. The scenery, however, is gorgeous - the film was actually shot in England - and plays out very well on a movie theater screen. Still, I would recommend  The Woman in Black for a matinee showing or waiting to see on DVD.

The Woman in Black is in theaters today, February 3rd, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 98 minutes. 3 stars out of 5.

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Liz Parker is a 2009 graduate of the University of Michigan. She currently works as an Assistant Medical Editor for a pathology website. Visit her at her movie blog Yes/No Films
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