Beware, young Harry Potter fans – the boy who lived now finds himself in much darker territory.
In this period tale, Daniel Radcliffe does his best ‘grown up’ face as noobie lawyer Arthur Kripps whose life has not been a happy one. His wife has died in childbirth and his son is prone to doing sad drawings, but things can only pick up, right?
Er, no. In fact things get very creepy and generally a bit grim when Kripps is dispatched to a remote northern village to sort out the paperwork of a deceased widow.
The locals aren’t a friendly bunch – it seems they are haunted by a ghostly Woman in Black, an omen of doom. When she is seen, a child dies in the village…
Director James ‘Eden Lake’ Watkins goes for the tried and tested ‘jump scene every eight minutes’ formula with his adaptation of Susan Hill’s best selling horror mystery novel.
You really can set your watch by the ‘boo’ moments as every opportunity to have ghostly images appear in the corner of shot, in mirrors, through grimy windows and so on is exploited.
It’s certainly a decent effort at making you jump, wince and think: ‘Come on, Harry – can’t you just use a spell to sort out this malicious old hag?’
The film also walks a fine line to keep within within the requirements of the box office friendly 12 certificate – the last time The Woman in Black was made, in 1989, it was saddled with a 15 rating.
Radcliffe does OK in the lead role, but most of the time he just has to look a bit mystified and/or scared.
The rest of the cast are decent enough and the special effects work well.
The main ‘haunted house’ setting is a masterpiece of spook-em-up design and comes with the most sinister selection of evil looking toys ever to be assembled in one place.
The Woman in Black is absolutely chock full of horror movie genre clichés but they are thrown at the screen with such force that you can happily suspend your disbelief and lap up the screaming banshee wails, the terrified yelps and the whimpering that will be coming at you in ‘surround sound’ – mostly from the various young Harry Potter fans who have never witnessed a real horror movie before!