Saturday, August 4, 2012

Black is the new, um, black.


I do love me a good ghost story.  Ever since the early b&w days of horror with The Haunting and The Uninvited, ghost tales have always caught my attention.  Haunted house stories in particular.  The creepier the house in those flicks, the more I enjoy.  Of course, as with every genre, there are hits and misses.  And boy, oh boy, are the misses bad (don't get me started on The Haunting remake). 

However, in recent years the ghost story sub-genre has really been picking up steam.  The Paranormal Activity series and Insidious (just to name a few) are prime contributors in kick-starting it back into box-office gold.  So it seemed necessary to review something a little more recent, which is where The Woman in Black comes in.

Starring Daniel Radcliffe (I think he was in Twilight or something, I dunno), this flick takes place in ye olde England, roughly early 1900's.  Radcliffe plays the role of Arthur Kipps, the down-on-his-luck lawyer.  His wife died four years prior giving birth to his son, and is in danger of losing his job.  His boss gives him one more chance to keep his job, by sending him to a village called Cryphin Gifford in order to deal with some paperwork in the Eel Marsh house, who's owner recently died.  Upon arriving, Kipps is treated less than courteously by the villagers, except for a man named Daily, who defends Kipps against the villagers insistence that he leave.  After some time passes in the Eel Marsh home, Kipps starts to see and hear strange things.  And the paperwork he finds reveals that more is going on than it seems. 

I enjoyed this movie.  It certainly isn't the best of the best in terms of ghost stories, but it definitely kept my attention.  Daniel Radcliffe wasn't really exhibiting a wide range of emotions throughout the majority of this flick.  He seemed to have the same facial expression throughout, with some exceptions here and there.  But it wasn't the worst performance I've ever seen.  Of course, the character he plays has had a rough few years, so I suppose that attributes to his almost constant dour expression.

The creepiness factor is quite prevalent, especially during the Eel Marsh scenes.  There are unfortunately some predictable jump scares here and there.  However, between the jump scares there is some genuinely tense buildup between them.  I personally love when there is a slow build-up to something scary.  The anxiety you get from waiting for something to happen is way more effective than something suddenly jumping out at you every few minutes or so.  Which is why I mentioned The Haunting and The Uninvited earlier.  They are amazing at building tension and unnerving you.  And The Woman in Black has a good balance of tension and quick scares. 

And the house?  Boy I love the house.  It's isolated way out in the middle of nowhere, in an area that's regularly foggy.  Not to mention a small family graveyard in the front.  So outside the house alone has a creepiness going for it.  And inside?  Wow, I would LOVE to own this house.  From the size, to the furniture, to the design itself, everything about it screams haunted house.  But it has a remarkable beauty about it.  Well, it does to me anyway. 

The bottom line?  If you have a craving for a good old fashioned ghost story, with a very creepy atmosphere and plenty of tense moments and scares, you'll want to check it out.  While not perfect, it definitely does what it sets out to do.  At the very least, it'll keep you ghost fans sated until Apparition comes out. 

Movie scale: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Ghost/Scare scale: 4 out of 5 stars

-I'm Ken Bucklesworth, and I ain't afraid of no ghost!

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