I don’t like this movie. I know I’m supposed to wait about midway through this opening to say that, but instead, I’m going to just spill it now for anyone reading this who might feeling I might have some stronger feelings than the “critically neutral tone” I’m going to try to convey.
The Woman In Black might as well be called Jump Scare: The Movie. Some people like jump scares, just like some people think rapping really fast requires actual skill. Neither does, (so go back to rapping for real Busta) and such is the story of Woman In Black. In a nutshell, a severely miscast Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young widower with four year old son. I didn’t buy it for a second. Don’t get me wrong here, I came into this open to see Radcliffe play a new character. The problem is Arthur Kipps is just another stock horror character. Radcliffe plays him well enough, but there’s not much to him other than his wife died and he has a kid. With nothing to focus on and develop in his character, we’re simply stuck with a teenager looking Radcliffe with some sick muttonchops rocking vintage clothes.
The story is pretty much Kipps is assigned to do lawyer stuff at this luxurious abandoned mansion where the townsfolk believe a woman’s ghost exist that has cursed the town. SPOILER ALERT: She does and she has. I won’t actually say how she haunts the town as it’s the only interesting thing about the movie. But the basic shtick is Kipps walks in the house, jump scares happen, Kipps leaves the house, someone tells him not to go back, Kipps totally goes back, and more jump scares. This wouldn’t be such a bad shtick for a horror movie if it wasn’t for the fact that nobody in this movie really has anything to say.
The scares are so shameless that half of them don’t even make sense when you consider the fact that he’s in the house alone. For example, the scene in ALL of the previews where Arthur looks through the window and the ghost calmly appears behind him. That’s scary until you see the full scene where he immediately turns around and SPOILER ALERT: nothing is there. When you think about it, not even really think about it, but just think for a second, that not only doesn’t make sense, but is not scary in the least. As far as good things going for it, as I stated before, there are some cool death scenes, and the actual curse the woman in black spreads is pretty messed up. However, those actually interesting things are rarely focused on, and mostly mentioned in passing.
Overall, it’s a forgettable horror film with some nice ideas that’s far too busy trying to be scary to actually genuinely scare us.
*Fun Fact: Adrian Rawlins, the actor who play Harry Potter’s dad, played Arthur Kipps in 1989 TV movie adaptation of The Woman In Black.