By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer
“The Woman in Black,” the new haunted house suspense film by director James Watkins, calls to mind classic horror films.
Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young widower and father of a 4-year-old son who’s facing a crushing depression. He’s sent to a small village in the English countryside to go through the records of a deceased woman living at a run down manor surrounded by marsh land. When Kipps begins seeing a mysterious woman in black and children in the town start dying, he attempts to find the reason behind the strange phenomenon.
The film opens with three children jumping out of a window. It’s shocking and sets the pace for the rest of the movie. The pace is slow going at first, so much so that there’s a good chance that a lot of viewers might be restless. This film—much like horror classics “The Others” or the original “The Haunting”—simmers to the point that it leaves the audience breathless.
The scares are well worth the wait. The scenes that feature Kipps lurking around the oppressive landscape and claustrophobic manor are among the best in the film.
Watkins shoots the film beautifully. The scenery is heavy and thick, like the movie’s plot. It’s a wonderfully complex film, and he has his fun with it and the audience. Once the scares start, they rarely let up, not giving the audience any time to catch their breath.
So much of the film rests on Radcliffe’s shoulders in his first film since the Potter franchise ended. He does wonderfully, holding the movie together in those quiet, slower moments at the beginning of the film, and mirroring the audiences fear and nervousness as the plot amps up. With his pale skin, shock of black hair and clear sorrowful blue eyes he makes for the perfect tragic hero in the film.
The problems in the film are really going to depend on the personal preference of the audience. Either you’ll be cringing in your seat from the slow burn of the pacing, or you’ll be tapping your foot with impatience at the slow pace. Fans of the book by Susan Hill, which serves as inspiration behind the movie, might be upset by the ending.
There’s something really intriguing about this film, the way it’s shot and the way the plot is handled. It’s not an in-your-face, monster-under-the-bed type of film. “The Woman in Black” takes its time, laying out the story and expecting a lot from the audience. If you go in with an open mind and a love for old school horror films, you won’t be disappointed.