You could be forgiven for not knowing the story of the Woman In Black. The book is different to the play, the play is different to the book and the movie, and the movie is different to the book…. and the play. You get the idea.
So without giving too much away to any of the above, Daniel Radcliffe’s Arthur Kipps is a broken man after the death of his wife some years earlier while she gave birth to their son Joseph. As a young lawyer working in London, he is despatched to the eerie midland coastal town of Crythin Gifford to settle the deeds of the ever reclusive (and recently deceased) Mrs Drablow. The Only problem is, she lived in a house on marshland that is only accessible on the also spine-chillingly named Nine Lives Causeway, which can only be used at low tide. Upon settling there, Kipps experiences some rather sinister hauntings and uncovers a tragic story of heart wrenching loss.
The movie itself is terrific. If you’ve witnessed the play and read the book then it will be an undoubted joy to see this on the big screen. Director James Watkins, backed by a resurgence from Hammer Films Productions, steers away from the gore and guts of recent horror films and works instead to build tension and unease. This discomfort is achieved with great success and is a nostalgic tribute to the old style thrillers of the 50’s and 60’s.
There are plenty of jumps and frights to be experienced throughout the movie as the audience is made to suffer the loneliness and solitude of Eel Marsh House. Once the five minute mark is surpassed and Radcliffe is no longer Harry Potter, his performance as Arthur Kipps is solid and unwavering. Kipps is not a character that would display the broadness of anyone’s acting talent, but for someone like Radcliffe to be able to put in such a solemn piece, is testament to his maturity as an actor.
The special effects are sound and used sparingly, with Watkins preferring to use lighting in his favour. The old hag herself looks terrifically creepy and the final shot of her in the film will leave many with a sleepless night.
There was one particular down point to the script and movie, as it seemed unnecessary to add in the abnormal possession of Mrs Daily to feed the plot line when it was going along so swimmingly. That aside, the story has been adapted excellently for cinema and anyone that is familiar with the previous forms will take pleasure in this adaption. DR does himself no disservice with his performance, but his next choice will have to be a careful one in order to continue shaking the Potter label.