Horror films are genre that many amateur filmmakers use to enter the business. This is true for filmmakers like Wes Craven, John Carpenter, and M. Night Shyamalan. However, the concept of the horror film has undoubtedly changed throughout the years, for better or worse.
Based on a 1983 novel, The Woman in Black draws inspiration from classic horror stories that rely on suspense and atmosphere instead of shock and gore like we see in today’s horror films.
The novel was later adapted into one of the longest running plays in London’s West End, second only to the Agatha Christie murder mystery, “The Mousetrap.”
While the film is being distributed by CBS Films, it was primarily produced by Hammer Film Productions. The very same Hammer Film Productions known for it’s long string of horror films rivaled only by Universal’s horror films from the 30’s and 40’s
A young lawyer named Arthur Kipps, played by Daniel Radcliffe, is sent by his law firm to settle the affairs of the recently deceased Alice Drablow, only to discover the terrifying secrets of the Eel Marsh House and the eponymous “woman in black.”
The pacing of this film, while slower than most American films, is quite enjoyable as it properly builds suspense without establishing an easy-to-predict pattern. It uses the fear of the unknown to its advantage instead of explaining itself.
It takes its time in building up the suspense and mystery, letting you piece things together naturally, without resorting to a “summarization” seen in third-rate murder mystery dinner parties.
Radcliffe does a great job as the character of Arthur Kipps. You don’t see any shred of “Potter” in his performance. It’s clear that it’s a vastly different, more adult character.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It has a classic, “old school” feel that successfully terrifies, showing that it’s still possible to create a horror film that isn’t filled to the brim with gore and over-used jump scares.
I give The Woman in Black a 4/5.