Monday, June 25, 2012
The Woman in Black
What I liked:
The atmosphere. This was a subtle, slow-burning movie. It took a while to get going. But, once it did, it really grabbed me. It was the overall atmosphere of the movie that pulled me in. The setting was perfect. An old British town with stone buildings and mud streets. The old house that Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) spends most of the movie in is out in the middle of a marsh...it's a long drive down a muddy road just to get there. And, since the road is covered with water for half the day, he is stranded in the house by himself for long stretches. It gives the movie a very claustrophobic feel.
The story. Like I said, it starts slow, and it also starts with a bit of confusion. The viewer is as in the dark as Arthur, and we learn what's going on along with him. He is sent to the town to collect the paperwork to sell the Eel Marsh House, a large house on the edge of town. Its last owner (Alice Drablow) died, preceded by the death of her husband and child (her child died in the marsh). The people in the town are less than thrilled to see him, but he's not sure why. Throughout his time there, he discovers that many of the town's children have died horrible deaths (most of them seeming to have taken their own lives). He also begins seeing weird things in and around the house: a woman in a black dress - the only thing visible is her white face.
The characters. The townspeople are terrific. Dark and mysterious and a little sinister. And I was surprised by how much I loved Daniel Radcliffe in the role of Arthur. He was fantastic. I thought I would be distracted by him, but fairly early into the movie I was able to get past the fact that he was Harry Potter. And his character was great. My favorite part was how unafraid he was to investigate any strange noises he heard in the house. Hear a strange knocking down the hall? Go check it out. See a rocking chair rocking in an empty room? Walk up to it and stop it. He was obviously taken aback and confused by the events in the house, but that didn't stop him from investigating each and every one of them.
I didn't really dislike anything in this movie. I loved it. I thought it was legitimately creepy. It was the first movie to scare me since Quarantine.
It was a fantastic haunted house movie. There were a handful of "gotcha" scares, but, for the most part, this movie built up its scares through hard work and atmosphere. It worked hard for those scares, and it earned every single one.
Watch this movie, especially if you're into the haunted house genre.