Movie #48: The Woman In Black

I think the biggest question on viewers’ minds was how actor Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) would continue his career after playing the young wizard for a decade. I don’t know if anything was proven by his role/performance in the gothic horror movie The Woman In Black, but I guess it’s not a bad idea to stick to something British and fantastical. In this story (which is surprisingly simple considering it’s actually based on a book), Radcliffe plays young lawyer and single father Arthur Kipps, who is assigned to handle the paperwork on a creepy old house in the remote country. The movie is rather run-of-the-mill as horror movies go. It contains all the expected elements: ghosts of dead children (bringing music boxes to life), restless spirit of a woman locked in the attic, creaky floors, doors that lock and unlock themselves, and mysterious figures in the fog. There isn’t much of a plot either: most of the time, Kipps keeps insisting that he needs to get back to Eel Marsh house to get that paperwork done (though he doesn’t seem to do much of it when he’s there). Meanwhile, all the villagers glare at him because they think that his going back to the house has reawakened the vengeful spirit that is taking her anger out on their children. Everything is predictable and cliche. Once Kipps figures out the past events which traumatized the woman in black (which any viewer would have figured out long before he does), he just has to find a way to help her to rest in peace. Even though the plot is so rudimentary, it’s still kind of scary (especially for a horror movie chicken like myself). This movie proved something that I’ve known ever since I was a kid playing with the fast-forward button on my VCR: scary movies are not scary without sound. In this case, it was all up to the creepy soundtrack –especially the occasional discordant notes right as a door closes, or a shadow passes by in the corner — to keep things scary. In fact, most of the movie was just Kipps alone in the house, so there wasn’t even much dialogue. After staying somewhat mediocre throughout, I wish I could say that the ending was clever or an uplifting sigh of relief, or even a nice cozy resolution. Instead, there was a little bit of a twist that seemed like a cheap attempt at something different. I hope Radcliffe (and his agent) have better stuff in the queue for his movie career because this one was far from impressive (3 out of 5).

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