I was never a fan of Daniel Radcliffe. I have seen all the Harry Potter movies and I was never impressed, not even a bit, with his acting. The reason people like Radcliffe is because he gave life to a truly legendary fictional character: Harry Potter. Even after 8 crazily anticipated movies, Daniel Radcliffe, always seemed like an amateur to me. Though it took him a decade or so to end up in a movie which would give him a chance at showing off his acting prowess. Daniel Radcliffe, at times, was fantastic at portraying a credible ‘Arthur Kipps’, though at times of extreme tension he was near plastic at showing emotions. Nuff said…The Woman in Black helped him break the Harry-Potter-mould he was in. In ‘The Woman in Black’, Daniel plays Arthur Kipps, a young man who recently lost his wife, leaving him alone with his four year old son and with him being on the verge of losing his job unless he travels to handle some affairs at the ‘Eel Marsh House’.
Ah, The Eel Marsh House! It is the haunted mansion in question and is where all the horrors have been traced to. Have to give credits to the production designers, its one of the best set pieces in recent horror flicks. Eerily standing, away from the village and with a road (just for namesake) spiralling over marsh lands, The Eel Marsh House is production design at its best. You feel each door creak, windows slamming and the house itself breathing the damp air inside. The almost dialogue-less Marsh House sequences in the 2nd act was splendidly filmed.
The movie initially started off as purely atmospheric. I watched it at night when I could almost feel the windchill accompanied by the moody score. I was immediately immersed and the cold just accentuated the temper of the film. As I mentioned earlier, the atmospherics were excellant, thanks to the brilliant sound design. Its an essential for a good horror movie. By the end of 2nd act, I forgot I was nailbiting the entire time.
There was very less CG that was used and it shows. It adds to the authentic grim mood of the movie. Closet Monsters and cliches were aplenty. So were sound cues, which in itself gave a lot of jolts even when you expected it. Director James Watkins had to squeeze in more scares every now and then so what does he do? He uses silence followed by a sudden opus to make you jump in your seat. I take that as being ‘unoriginal’. I see it as a fake scare which had more to do with the startle of the music than anything remotely scary. And except for a brief scene at the beginning, the film never truly explores Arthur’s relationship with his son nor the mental state about his deceased wife. That BTW was unused potential right there!
Believe me, I like to be scared shit-less…a scare that’d haunt me for hours to come, even after the movie. I don’t want mere jolts. But alas, just like ‘Insidious’, what started off as a great atmospheric horror movie…what could have been a prestigious milestone for horror movies, The Woman in Black turned out to be just ‘jumps & jolts’. I really don’t want to stamp it as ‘mediocre’, but the cliches, outdated horror techniques and a lack of a solid cast makes it a movie which fails to live up to the expectations I had with its first half.