07 February 2012

The Woman in Black

Daniel Radcliffe is shown in a scene from "The Woman in Black."
"I think I'll work through the night."

Many stupid things have been said in movies, horror movies in particular. But "I think I'll work through the night" from "The Woman in Black" has got to be near the top of the list.

The speaker is Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a young attorney sent from London to a remote coastal village to settle the affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drablow.

He already has spent some time at her home, the Eel Marsh House, a place where the locals, except the friendly, wealthy Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds), are afraid to go. He already has seen the mysterious, black-clothed woman on the grounds. He already has learned of the violent deaths that occurred there in the past. And he already has seen how spooky the house can be in the daytime.

So when Sam tells him when he must return to pick him up before high tide makes the one road to and from the place impassable, Arthur, with all this knowledge, knowing he will be stranded there until the next day, doesn't hesitate a beat before saying, "Oh no, it's fine. I think I'll work through the night."

Why does he do this? Because otherwise there would be no movie.

There isn't even much of one as it stands.

Produced in part by the recently revived Hammer Films, I give "The Woman in Black" credit for at least trying to spook up some scares the old-fashioned way. The Eel Marsh House, created by production designer Kave Quinn and brought to dimly lit life by cinematographer Tim Maurice-Jones, is the real star of the movie, creaking and groaning like an old man with bad knees and filled with doors that are locked and immovable one moment and swinging wide open the next.

Director James Watkins, though, fails to get as much out of it as he probably could have, favoring BOO! moments that release the tension instead of allowing the suspense to accumulate.

Radcliffe, in his first post-"Harry Potter" movie role, spends much of his time onscreen alone in the house, which is problematic because through a combination of writing and performance, his Arthur essentially is a blank slate. And the actor appears far too young to portray a man who is a solicitor, widower and father to a 4-year-old son.

The only other thing we know about Arthur is he's a hard worker, dedicated to, if nothing else, making sure we get our movie. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

Greg's Grade: C-

(Rated PG-13 for thematic material and violence/disturbing images. 96 minutes.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

He keeps returning to the house because he's lost his mind from the death of his wife.
Watch his face when he sees his wife has died and you'll see he's not all there anymore.
If the ghosts are real, his wife might be out there somewhere in spirit. If none of it is real, he will never see her again.

It's perfectly reasonable for a young man to have children in the PreWW2 era.