“The Woman in Black” Chills
After over a decade of worldwide viewers typecasting Daniel Radcliffe as the ever-so-famous Harry Potter, he demonstrates a new and more mature side of himself as an actor, playing a young father in “The Woman in Black,” an adaptation of Susan Hill’s 1983 novel of the same name.
Set in England, the suspenseful horror film revolves around a young lawyer named Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) raising his four-year-old son by himself with the assistance of a live-in nanny. His law firm instructs him that he must leave for a week on business to a small, desolate village to complete his work at an abandoned mansion.
The mystery begins to unravel as Arthur learns from the terrified townspeople that there is a ghostly presence of a disdainful woman in black who was once incapable of saving her young son from drowning.
Although she walks amongst the living in the shadows, whenever she is seen, an innocent child will die a horrendous death. The villagers remain inside their homes and hide their children in fear that theirs may be the next to die. Arthur Kipps must attempt to accomplish his work for his firm, for which he will be fired from if uncompleted, while inevitably becoming enveloped in the madness.
Interestingly, the boy who plays the role of Radcliffe’s son in the film, Misha Handley, is the actor’s own godson. Radcliffe himself influenced the casting decision because he believed it would only enhance the on-camera relationship they share. It is no surprise that the young yet incredibly accomplished actor would want to branch out from the brand he has been closely associated with for so many years. Radcliffe undoubtedly shows his audience that he is more than capable of playing a different role, but it is up to the viewers to become accustomed to the change.
The film includes several other English actors who give equally marvelous performances: Janet McTeer, who has been apart of many English films within the past decade, and Ciarán Hinds, well-known for his roles in films such as “Munich” and “There Will be Blood.”
While constantly keeping viewers in suspense of what the woman in black will do next, the film exhibits strong themes of love, affection and appreciation for children. Radcliffe’s character frequently looks back to a picture his son drew for him multiple times throughout the film, demonstrating the comfort his son brings to him, his longing to leave the ghostly town and his concern for the safety of his own son.
Moviegoers will appreciate the film’s constant suspense. Though slightly slow in the beginning, the suspense is always apparent and will definitely keep the audience on edge.
“The Woman in Black” certainly possesses all the proper ingredients for a successful horror film with a bleak and grey setting that looks centuries old.
The film may not be intensely action-packed or contain a plethora of gory scenes, but the sound effects and music throughout give the viewer the same level of intensity that an action-packed movie would. Though the music in a film is usually such an important element to build up suspense for viewers, utter silence is sometimes enough to fulfill the same task.
As moviegoers, our first assumption of “The Woman in Black” may be that of any other gothic horror film, but director James Watkins does a fabulous job of creating more than the usual thriller for anxious viewers. Although the appeal of Daniel Radcliffe may be enough to make the film a successful one, “The Woman in Black” is more than a film with a familiar lead actor; it gives thrill-seeking viewers what they are looking for.
Rating: 4 out of 5