Monday, September 17, 2012

THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012) movie review

Woman in Black, The (2012) d. Watkins, James (UK)

Hammer’s latest offering envisions Daniel ("don't call me Harry") Radcliffe’s legal beagle as an epically grieving widower (which works quite well considering the cloud of death and pain that hangs over the Crythin village populace), and the hostility he encounters from both the locals and the estate’s long-dead vengeful spirits only increases our empathy toward him. Screenwriter Jane Goldman offers a worthy riff on Susan Hill's novel, complemented by director Watkins’ solid atmospheric work, although the most effective moments are not the ones seemingly designed to appease a modern day audience (now you see ‘em now you don’t CGI ghosts, big aural jump scares) but the "classic" slow burn spooking sequences (gazing down long hallways, silent climbs up and down foreboding staircases). Ultimately, I admired the period effort more than loved it, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Is it likely to leave lasting memories and have you looking under the bed? Probably not, but it's among the better studio-based genre efforts and ranks just below Let Me In and Wake Wood as far as Hammer's recent output. (I'd rank them 3 for 4, with The Resident being the only true disappointment under Simon Oakes 21st century stewardship.)

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