February 9, 2012
I am a fan of the horror genre. However lately, American horror films have really deteriorated in quality, either they are rip-offs of Asian horror films or more of violent and gory "Saw" or "Final Destination"- type films. As the poster and stills of this film promises a return to the old fashioned Gothic horror film, I made sure I watched this.
Set in Victorian England, "The Woman in Black" is about a young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) who had been assigned to a remote village to fix the papers regarding a certain estate. However, Kipps notes that many children are dying mysterious deaths, and the people seem to blame him for it. Are the deaths of the children related to the mysterious abandoned estate he is working on or the "woman in black" he sees lurking in its shadows?
From the ominous first scenes, we know this film would be special. I am pretty sure that a word that many reviewers will use to this describe this film is "ATMOSPHERIC." The creepy atmosphere that director James Watkins successfully achieves for this film is excellent. It will completely absorb you and bring you into that haunted village and house right along with Arthur Kipps. Yes, there were the usual jump scare techniques, but they were used to great effect. You will gasp in spite of yourself. The use of porcelain-faced dolls and wind-up toys may be old, but still very effectively used to further enhance the scariness of the scenes. Daniel Radcliffe does very well here. I did have a hard time accepting him as a young father at first, as his Harry Potter persona is still very fresh in our memories.
Overall, I liked this film very much. I thought I was already jaded after all those horror films I had seen before. This film still succeeded to give me genuine chills and jumps. The gloomy weather, desolate marshy location and antique set design were on point for creating the perfect atmosphere for dread. Okay, this is not at the level of "Sixth Sense" or "The Others", but it is definitely a step in the right direction as far as the horror genre is concerned. Despite a few illogical scenes (what ghost story film isn't without them?), I will whole-heartedly recommend this film for horror movie fans.