Harry Potter is off to fight ghosts in the new film adaptation of the popular stage show The Woman In Black.
Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps in his first role since the phenomenon that was Harry Potter ended. Arthur isn't a wizard but a solicitor who is struggling to get over the death of his wife and provide for his young son. Sounds like a bit of a challenge for Daniel who's had endless criticism for his performance as Harry Potter. But more about that later. Arthur is sent to a desolate village to sort out the paperwork of a deceased eccentric woman who owned a manor house on a small island that can only be traveled to when the tide is out. The villagers want him to leave because they know about the horrible things that happen to the people who stay in the house. But he refuses, and soon discovers that the whole town is haunted by the vengeful ghost of a woman dressed in black.
I spent half the film shouting 'what are you doing? Don't go in there!' But that's half the fun of a horror film. The difference with The Woman In Black was people were also shouting 'just use the petronus charm Harry' and 'get on your broomstick and fly away Harry'. So the big question is, will Daniel ever be free from his Harry Potter image? To be honest The Woman In Black is a valiant effect but I think it's going to take a little more than that. His portrayal of Arthur was quite likable and more importantly believable but his mannerism were also very similar to Potter which is such an iconic character, Daniel is going to find it hard to break away from him. Personally I don't think Daniel is a strong enough actor to carry an adult film like this but on the other hand he had no trouble supporting the Harry Potter franchise. Maybe he just had the audience under a spell.
I was shocked to see it was a 12A. If you've seen this film you will know why but if you haven't let me tell you it is the stuff of nightmares. Not only is the plot very chilling but some of the murders are really upsetting and not something anyone as young as 12 should see.
The plot has taken a lot of elements from other ghost stories and put them together to make a semi-original story. But don't forget it is based on a long-running play and before that a novel. You still might get a feeling of deja vu while watching it but it is very enjoyable. My favorite scene being the ones with a character called Mrs. Daily (Janet McTeer) who is a rich old woman who believes she can still communicate with her dead son and gives all her maternal affection to her dogs. Her scenes are really chilling. Another fantastic element is the creepy wind-up toys in the house, which appear to come to life and give the film a super scary atmosphere.
So as horror movies go I really enjoyed The Woman In Black. I hope that this means that the horror movie — and Hammer who produced it — will make a comeback to mainstream cinema similar to the 80s heyday of Halloween and Friday the 13th, etc. This film is definitely a good way to start because it has all the classic elements of a horror but also has some interesting characters and strong atmosphere. Two things that have been missing from the horror movie genre in recent years when have they descended into gore-fests and never-ending sequels.
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