The moment I saw the trailer for Woman in Black, I knew I would see it in the theater and possibly on opening night. It was not only because Daniel Radcliffe played the lead, although okay, that had a lot to do with it. I’ve always had a weird crush on the kid thanks to Harry Potter, all right? And since the Harry Potter series is over, I desperately look forward to more time with the guy. Woman in Black was my opportunity.
Furthermore, I love old style PG-13 horror films. Classic movies like The Haunting and Psycho used little touches that directors seem to have forgotten—but apparently not director James Watkins. He’s a newbie. He’s only made horror movies, and I haven’t seen any of his other ones. I can’t make a judgment on his general skills, but he nailed it with Woman in Black.
The movie is based on a book and stage play of the same name, by author Susan Hill. Danny boy plays Arthur Kipps—a lawyer who lost his wife in childbirth. That was a couple years ago, and now, his son has grown into a cute four-year-old. Arthur, though, never recovered from the loss of his wife, and he is now in danger of losing his job … unless he can redeem himself through a new assignment in the creepy, small town of Crythin Gifford. Arthur has to find the last will of a woman who died in the spooky house out in the marshlands. Once there, he realizes he might not be alone. He keeps seeing a woman dressed all in black wandering the premises. Of course, this is never a good sign.
Although Radcliffe does an excellent job of looking totally freaked for the entire ninety-five minutes, Watkins is to thank for the film’s suspense and overwhelming terror. It’s what you don’t see that’s important. It’s the face reflected in glass that’s gone when you turn around. It’s the door slamming and the possessed rocking chair. It’s the dark figure you swear you just saw behind you in the mirror. And man, does it work.
This is the kind of movie you don’t want to watch in the dark. It’s the kind of movie that makes you scream, cover your face, and just wish for it to be over. The day I saw it, Jake worked nights. I had to sleep in my house all by myself, and you better believe I hid my head under the covers. And to think, there wasn’t any gore in Woman in Black. There wasn’t any cussing. No sex. No drugs. Just a guy in a creepy house with candles and a vengeful ghost.
If you’re sick of movies like Saw and Piranha 3D, you need to see Woman in Black. It harkens back to a different time, when Hitchcock was king and dark hallways were enough to make you scream out loud. And trust me: you will scream out loud.