Cast:Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciaran Hinds, Liz White, Alisa Khazanova, Tim McMullan, Roger Allam, Daniel Cerqueira, Shaun Dooley, Mary Stockley, Cathy Sara, David Burke, Victor McGuire, Lucy May Barker
The Woman in Black has a long history in the UK -- before receiving this recent remake from Hammer Films, there was a successful book, which was later adapted into a long-running stage play, which was then turned into a creepy underrated made-for-TV movie in the late 80s. I liked the original film, but also don't deny that it had some room for improvement. This remake does manage to develop certain aspects better than the original, but also falls short in others, making it a good, but not a great remake.
Set in the early 1900s, the story follows a young lawyer sent to a small town to gather documents from a recently deceased woman that would aid his employers into selling the estate. While there he's forced to stay in the woman's secluded mansion home, where he encounters various strange unexplained sounds and visions of a dark figured woman. He soon learns of the town's ghost story of the "Woman in Black". Apparently she's the vengeful spirit of a woman who lost her own child and now she's determined to kill the town's remaining children.
I really admire the fact that the filmmakers weren't afraid to deliver a period ghost story, because the interesting setting and great atmosphere really set the eerie tone for the entire film. There were quite a few incredibly creepy and really quiet, highly atmospheric scenes that you don't see often in modern horror pics. It's just a shame that much of these creepy sequences weren't complimented with great scares, because a lot of the scare-tactics used in the movie were pretty standard abrupt, pop-up methods that we've all seen time and again.
The use of the Woman in Black was improved over the original, as she wasn't really shown much (aside from her silhouette or white face in the distance) which made her even creepier than ever before. In the original she looked simply like a pale woman with bags under her eyes, and they showed her to excess, removing much of her potential creepiness. Though, people who aren't familiar with the story or previous film/adaptations will likely compare the Woman to the creepy old lady specter from Insidious.
Although I liked the film, it still had its share of issues. For instance, aside from some pacing probs early on, I thought the lawyer (Daniel Radcliffe) reacted a little too calmly to a lot of these strange supernatural encounters, especially towards the end when there's a long sequence that involved several continuous scares. During this sequence he'd get startled by something then press on to another part of the house and get scared by something else and this continued for a while. I suppose it's because he was a non-believer and huge skeptic, but seeing him investigate one strange thing after the other without just running straight outta the house from the get-go just seemed a bit unrealistic.
The Woman in Black is essentially the return of the good old fashioned ghost tale, delivering a lot of great atmosphere and loads of really creepy scenes. Unfortunately, there are some pacing issues from time to time and despite its creepiness, resorted to some of the genre's standard scare tactics. Despite that, it's still a pretty good movie and a solid addition to Hammer Films slate.
|Posted on February 7, 2012 - 1:00pm | FrighT MasteR|