review of The Woman In Black:
Man oh man, do I love innovation. When somebody tries to do something that no one’s tried to do before, no matter what, kudos is always in order. True creativity takes two things: balls and lateral thinking. A toast, then, to anyone trying to do one of the most novel things in cinema today: write a story with a narrative as linear as possible.
So what if it makes your film boring. So what if it causes every critic to complain about the same, glaring flaw in your storytelling. It’s new, and hasn’t been done for a while, and so long as you hype up your movie enough and stick Harry Potter in as the leading role, people will pay to see it!
But, perhaps that’s the point. The Woman in Black was written (or adapted, rather) with exactly that quality in mind – strong atmosphere, weak narrative. It’s a ghost story that’s about as repetitive as they come, but if you’re not an avid fan of the horror genre, then prepare yourself for a double dose of novelty.
Time to shoehorn in a synopsis.
Set in what’s assumed to be a late 18th century foggy east coast of the United Kingdom, we’re treated to the story of Arthur Kipp (Daniel Radcliffe) who’s a widower and lawyer whose mandatory dedication to his job is starting to cause him to grow distant from his 4-year-old son. He’s assigned to handle the estate of the deceased Alice Drablow, a former owner of Eel Marsh, which is a fittingly spooky manor that’s rife with odd, clichéd, and creepy kids’ toys. There, she lived with her equally deceased sister, Jennet – a mentally unhinged basket case who hung herself for reasons that will spoil the movie, if uttered. As per usual, she now haunts the mansion with reckless abandon. She’s already dead, you see, so it’s OK to be reckless.
“In this movie, I play a real-live grown-up.” Bullshit.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Daniel Radcliffe as some kid’s dad? I can only suspend my disbelief so far, guy.”
Firstly, don’t call me that. Secondly, you’ll be pleased to know that he actually pulls off that old-fashioned adult aura with relative ease – you could even go so far as to say that he plays the part of a mopey single father quite well, actually. But then again, that wouldn’t be saying much. Still, it looks like he may have a career ahead of him after all.
Fortunately, he fits right in to this characteristically bland, period piece wherein the majority of the first and second acts are centered around building atmosphere. This heavy reliance on build-up, combined with the upper-crust setting causes it to run into a bit of a problem: You feel as if nothing’s really going on.
Oh sure, there’s that one friend that he makes, and he gains a couple bits of info pertaining to the mystery of just WTF is going on up in that dusty, haunted house, but the plot points are interspersed between long, slow draws of, “Oh, I heard a big noise. I think I’ll investigate. Ah haha it’s actually nothing. Silly me.” Cue ghost of old lady in black winking at the audience, rinse and repeat. Yes, you could call that “building atmosphere,” but most likely it’ll only maintain the attention of someone who’s never even glanced at aflick.
As such, you too may find yourself mired in a foggy mist – the foggy mist of apathy. You’re stuck, trapped in your seat, having paid for a movie that shows no signs of picking up anytime soon. You know that it’s going somewhere with all this – I mean, come on, it has to – but it sure is taking its sweet fat time getting there. As such, it truly is a horrifying experience.
Find out why Yell! Magazine will forever torment NoFaceNorm…
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 3 February 2012
- James Watkins
- Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Emma Shorey, Molly Harmon, Sophie Stuckey, Misha Handley, Roger Allam, Ciarán Hinds, Shaun Dooley, Ciarán Hinds
- Horror, Thriller, Drama
- Official URL:
- The Women In Black Official