Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Horror Thoughts ‘12—The Woman in Black (2012) ***

PG-13, 95 min.
Director: James Watkins
Writers: Jane Goldman, Susan Hill (novel)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer

Harry Potter’s all grown up now, and moving on to much scarier projects than his tussle with the dude whose name no one can remember. As ghost stories go, “The Woman in Black” earns its goose bumps. Daniel Radcliffe makes for a pretty good leading man too. He’s a handsome bastard, isn’t he?

This is a pretty basic ghost story that doesn’t really break any new ground. It’s well made, though, and it’s turn of the 20th Century British coastal setting makes for a good moody atmosphere conducive to this horror genre stuff. It’s bleak. It’s lonely. It’s wet. Instead of being hysterical and wet, this one is depressing and wet.

Radcliffe plays a widower who is sent to a remote coastal town by his law firm to settle the estate of a reclusive family so the properties they left behind can be sold. He meets a cold welcome in the small town, but he must complete his assignment to secure his future in the firm. He does befriend one gentleman who helps him but doesn’t readily divulge the town’s reason for wanting the young lawyer gone.

As the lawyer spends time at the remote estate, he begins to see and hear things. Soon it is clear he is in a ghost story that will follow him away from the estate if he doesn’t resolve the ghost’s issues before he leaves. Like I said, nothing incredibly original, but it is effective. The film takes its time building its mysteries. Director James Watkins isn’t all shock and jump cut like so many of today’s horror directors. There are some shocks, but they’re well earned, for the most part. “The Woman in Black” won’t go down in the annals of horror classics, but it’s good for a scare on a cold October night.

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