Hammer horror movies were a staple of the 50s, 60s and 70s and seeing these two words together again on the big screen brought a sense of hope and excitement to me as a horror fan. But as the “The Woman In Black” moved further into its 90-odd minute running time, my heart began to sink. It starts out promisingly enough: creepy old house, creepy village with creepy villagers, all hiding a dark secret. I have no problem sitting through a horror movie that wants to take me through well-trodden ground, as long as it does it well. And this movie doesn’t do it well.
Daniel Radcliffe is the first problem. I’ve never seen a Harry Potter movie so I didn’t go into “The Woman In Black” lumbered with visions of the actor as the bespectacled wizard or with any other Hogwart’s baggage. Perhaps he’s effective as young Harry Potter but as young Arthur Kipps, the bereaved husband raising a young son by himself, he’s flat and unconvincing – and too young to be playing this role.
The other main problem is the pacing of the film. A few jump scares do not a horror movie make. They accomplish little if there’s nothing much happening in between them. Arthur Kipps’ first experience of seeing the lady in black has all the right ingredients: a dark, spooky house, a ghost intent on revenge, a mystery to be solved – but they just aren’t put together in an effective way. The movie lumbers from one jump scare to the next, offering little in the way of character development or plot.
The atmosphere is non-existent. Jump scares need to be preceded by a sense of dread and foreboding and there was little of either here. After each jump scare, I found myself settling back in for more scenes of disgruntled villagers and Daniel Radcliffe’s limpid blue eyes trying to look grave.
For a truly effective ghost story see 1961’s “The Innocents” instead: atmospheric, suspenseful and chilling – everything “The Woman In Black” isn’t.
– Jody B Movie