We’re knee deep into 2012 and you must be asking “where are all the good horror movies?”, well ladies and gents, I present to you the first horror film in a long time that has kept me on the edge of my seat!
The Woman in Black is Daniel Radcliffe’s first post Harry Potter performance – it’s not a knockout but I guess he still needs to find a new shoe that fits. In the end, what we’ve been promised is a scary film that delivers a chilling, suspenseful story, and to that, this horror delivers in spades – and as a bonafinde horror fan it has been a much needed fix to the drought.
Arthur Kipps, an early 20th century widow with a young son, travels alone to a countryside village to settle the final will of a deserted mansion. But he arrives to a cold welcome with the entire village unsettled by his arrival. The mansion is suitably creepy and located within a marshland but Arthur must undertake this task to keep his job. Soon enough he finds the world is amiss with a mysterious figure – a woman in black clothing – and dire consequences arise upon her sighting.
What we have is a story that, while conventional in some respects, serves as a thriller, filled with mystery and surprise, not to mention scares. And while it certainly has an element of scariness, it’s the delivery of the mood that really sells the film. It harkens back to an age of filmmaking where the story built up immense amounts of tension before throwing the coupe de grace into full swing. It’s this tension that sells the story, accompanied by by a full production design that adds a sinister presence to compliment the writing.
The world is a haunting one (excuse the pun), and the visual design, ambiance, and cinematography add to the chills and terror. Despite all this attention to creepiness, it won’t really have you jumping out of your seat as the punchlines can be predictable and perhaps even a little cliche at times. The Woman in Black still resorts to cheap scare tactics, but it’s the build up that truly pushes you over the edge, and director James Watkins hit that element pitch perfect precision.
No matter what, don’t look under that skirt.
Everyone should experience a good horror when it comes to cinema – it’s one of those genres that just demand the experience. Needless to say, if you suffer from heart palpitations, it might be best to give this one a break until a Blu-ray release.
The Bottom Line
It feels a oddly disconcerting, writing a review filled with praise for a horror film released in the past few years as most of them have ranged from terrible, to eye-gougingly insipid. But, it eventually arrived and while not perfect, felt like a relieving break from the mediocre offerings of late because it employs not a sense of surprise and a genuine feeling of uneasiness – something that has been sorely lacking in the genre.