2012, 12, Directed by James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Roger Allam
For anyone who has seen the stage play of Susan Hill’s chiller, you will be certain that The Woman in Black requires a great amount of courage to witness without peeking through your fingers, but also a lead with enough scope and credible chops to make cautiously opening doors and being genuinely terrified seem fresh with every scene. Step forward, erm, Daniel Radcliffe, ready to prove he isn’t just the scar-bearing Boy Who Lived, but lawyer Arthur Kipps, a widowed father tasked with sorting out the belongings of Alice Drablow in a house where things don’t just go bump in the night, but a whole lot more.
Let’s get this out the way: Radcliffe is good. He charges his way through the film with grace amongst the chaos that will undoubtedly make you jump, but quite bluntly will either petrify you or bore you. He carries the film – although any more heavy lifting thrown his way, and the struggle may have been effervescent. Kipps has lost his wife to childbirth and is a loyal father to his sole son (who you will be forgiven for thinking looks more suited to be his younger brother). Yes, you care for the character, and yes, you fear for his safety. Commendation then to Jane Goldman, who has again proved she can write effective screenplays from respected source material (and can make a rocking chair the single spookiest thing on earth.)
But by the time the film’s divisive climax comes about, whether you’ll remember much about the whole affair long afterwards is somewhat debatable.Still, after becoming the most successful British horror flick in 20 years, and with a sequel already in the works, The Woman in Black evidently has a huge audience that will continue to lap up the antics. It's fair to say that there is a lot to sink your teeth into, but could do with more to chew on.