Monday, September 17, 2012

THE WOMAN IN BLACK (1989) movie review

Woman in Black, The (1989) d. Wise, Herbert (UK)

BBC version of Susan Hill’s engrossing ghost story follows Adrian Rawlins’ young, family-man solicitor called to handle the legalities of a recently deceased mansion owner in a remote English village. Upon arriving, he finds himself uncovering far deeper mysteries and secrets, ones that seem to link the hamlet residents’ tragic rash of children’s deaths with the vengeful spirits populating the mansion's shadowy confines. But the real magic is accomplished via the haunting spectral presence of Pauline Moran’s titular character – her fierce, hate-twisted visage providing more bona-fide chills than any number of computer-generated century phantoms. (The truly terrifying scene where she visits Rawlins in bed is worth the price of admission alone.) Thanks to solid performances, a superb adaptation by the legendary Nigel Kneale and Wise’s crisp direction on a presumably meager budget, this is one of the most underrated cinematic ghost stories out there, though the recent Hammer effort will hopefully raise some awareness.

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