The Woman in Black (2012)

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 6.4/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 6/10

THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012) - James Watkins

It was 2001. I was seven years old when I first fell in love with Daniel Radcliffe's portrayal of the widely acclaimed boy wizard: Harry Potter. Ten years later, the magical journey has finally concluded, still leaving a memorable place in our hearts. The scar hasn't pained Harry's forehead for years. All was well.

What can Radcliffe possibly do next? At first, I predicted him to either take a break from the movie industry or continue on with some other science fiction or fantasy film. Perhaps a reboot on the Golden Compass series or even start something new, like Pendragon or even Artemis Fowl. Surprises hit big for me when word comes out of Radcliffe playing the protagonist of an upcoming horror film. A horror film. What is more surprising is that The Woman in Black is an adaptation of an original 1983 novel by Susan Hill and the film is confirmed to be directed by James Watkins, who previously did Eden Lake, another horror film. This was a sign; a sign that Radcliffe might have a chance to make it to Hollywood. He has casted spells for ten years and now his first step on a different road is in the horror genre. Fascinating.

Daniel Radcliffe is now Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor who is assigned to handle the estate of a woman by the name of Alice Drablow, who owned an English manor that looks like a combination of the mansion inCasper and the grim humble abode of the Adams Family. Soon enough, Kipps finds himself haunted by a woman dressed in black, and the townspeople claim that the "Woman in Black" kills an innocent child every time she is seen.

Unlike a slasher like Halloween or a supernatural freak show like The ExorcistThe Woman in Black takes good advantage of atmospheric tension. The art direction was highly respected and paid attention to in this piece and the house bears a gothic tone similar to the classic Hammer Horror films. Integrate that with brilliant cinematography, crisp lighting, and slow dread-building shots and The Woman in Black should be an astounding horror film. Not yet.

A movie is like a journey up a mountain. One must be well-equipped with the necessary elements to easily "climb up". However, the execution of the movie, in this case, the journey down, is just as important. The Woman in Black is a perfect example of a film that has everything needed to be a good movie, yet executes the process in a mediocre fashion. Despite the mood and atmosphere being present, the film trails behind in its scares. There is a difference between making the audience shake because of chilly musical intensity and making the audience jump in fright because of a loud sound. Accompanying the scene with a loud sound effect is undeniably effortless to do. What is harder to do is to truly build tension. When the first "scare" came up, I jumped. When the fifth came up, I realized that this is all that they have for the audience. The scares then lose their value and the film in general becomes forgettable. In the end, loud sounds to scare the audience is simply "cheap filmmaking" and it is dreadfully unfortunate to see The Woman in Black, a movie with so much potential, to fall into the same abyss that so many other horror movies plunged into. It has climbed up the mountain so easily yet tripped and tumbled back down.

Luckily, the film is not a total loss, because it is indeed saved by one specific aspect, and that is, to my greatest surprise, Daniel Radcliffe. In the first half of the haunting, I could not help but expect Radcliffe taking out a wand and yell our memorable "Expecto Patronum". The real question of The Woman in Black is: Can Daniel Radcliffe outgrow the boy wizard and truly become someone else? Thankfully, the answer is yes. On the contrary, the film offers nothing unique for Radcliffe in the first half so that he can come out as Kipps. It dug itself a hole in the beginning with the star, but fortunately crawled back out with Radcliffe's convincing flows. Soon enough, we become persuaded that Radcliffe really is Arthur Kipps, and no longer Harry Potter.

In conclusion, The Woman in Black is middling. However, it is not to the point of being trashed with all theTexas Chainsaw Massacre sequels. I give them extreme credit and respect for trying something new and organic after all the formulaic junk we have been having in the last few years. The movie perfected its conceptual stage, but was carried out in the opposite direction, and sadly, the wrong direction. Mercifully, Daniel Radcliffe did his part and The Woman in Black is clear evidence that Radcliffe does have a bright future in the acting industry. But the movie itself, not so bright.


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