Published on February 12th, 2012 | by Lindsey Bakker0
Movie Review: The Woman In Black
Often, living in Chicago comes with its advantages and being able to see free movies is one of them. The latest screening I was treated to was The Woman in Black.
Like a villain breathing down the neck of an unsuspecting victim, The Woman In Black comes that close to what a horror movie should be. Screenwriter Jane Goldman (who has writing credits for X-Men: First Class, Stardust, and Kick-Ass) adapts Susan Hill‘s novel about a city lawyer who is assigned to travel to the country to arrange the affairs of a haunted country estate. The material is then handed to director James Watkins, who does a decent job, but is seemingly hindered by his lack of directing experience. Credit for the movie being as good as it is goes to the casting director (Karen Lindsay-Stewart) and Cinematographer (Tim Maurice-Jones)
While the accomplished actors in the film give stunning performances given the material they had, this is a best role for none of them. The previews are capitalizing on Daniel Radcliffe to sell the movie. In a way, it was a positive. He gave a good performance, really. He copes well with a lack of dialog, making me think that he might be a good actor outside of his Harry Potter fame. However, every time he spoke all I could think was, Oh, yep, that’s Harry Potter.
The setting is absolutely breathtaking. The estate is on an island in the marshes (conveniently) cut off during the tide. There is also (conveniently) fog, which adds to the creepiness of the run-down estate. The writers didn’t rely on dialog to move the story along, letting the visual aspects of the film carry the story in most parts. Rather than slow the story down, this was a strong choice to emphasize the loneliness of the characters and the isolation of the location.
At final count, there was one, single, lonely, jump-out-of-your-skin moment. It was a great one, but the single moment of fear didn’t permeate into the whole film. The story was generally interesting and kept me wondering where they were going to go next, even though it seemed incomplete. There’s a whole backstory on why the house is haunted and why these strange things are happening. The movie touches on it, but that’s about it. It got on my nerves that I knew there was an interesting backstory and not know anything else about it. Overall, I was left with a feeling that they picked the wrong pieces to include in the movie.
I can’t shake the feeling that this movie could have been so much better. It had all the elements, they just didn’t come together in the right way in the right time. People will still go see it because, as my friend put it: Yeah, but it’s Daniel and there are ghosts, so obviously I can’t not see it.
This story has been a book, a play, a TV movie and now a major release. Maybe it’s time to just call it quits.