Director: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer
Three young girls are innocently playing tea party when all of sudden they see something. They promptly stand up, walk to the window, and step out to their deaths. Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is a young lawyer who is sent to settle the estate of Alice Drablow. Kipps is recently widowed and is forced to leave his young son for the weekend for his new job. Kipps discovers all too soon that something is being hidden from him. The children of the town seem to be kept indoors and the townspeople do not want him dealing with the Drablow house. Kipps arrives at the estate only to find it abandoned and in shambles. There is an eerie feeling to the dark hallways, cobwebs, dolls, toys, and shadows that fill the space. Kipps starts to see visions of a woman in black and various children off in the distance as he stares out the window. He must make the connection to who the woman is and why she has cast a haunting aura over the village.
A horror movie that comes out in the middle of winter can usually spell trouble. I'm looking at you, The Devil Inside. Luckily, The Woman in Black is not that kind of movie. Maybe it is has to do with the fact that it is not your average slasher flick or devil possession movie. There is a classic horror movie feel in the style. Don't be turned off by the slow pacing at the beginning. It all builds up as Arthur discovers what is going on in the house and how the woman in black is involved. I don't want to go into too much detail as to give too much away. Watkins does a fantastic job at revealing the suspense at the same speed as Arthur is feeling it. Like many Hitchcock movies, the audience is never ahead of the main character. My only grief is the use of sound effects. The use seems a little forced as they try to evoke scares and jumps when the suspense and score alone would do the trick. You don't need to use sounds effects on top of the score. I don't mind the use of both but not at the same time. In his first post-Harry Potter role, Radcliffe succeeds at building a different character far different than the 17 year old we last saw him portray. I never saw Radcliffe and thought "Oh, it's Harry Potter acting scared of the dark". The Woman in Black is a smart, slick, and chilling ride that leaves you on the edge of seat.
RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)