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MovieMike's Movie Reviews (83)

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Woman in Black, The (2012) 
No So Scary
2/4 stars

The Woman In Black

If ‘The Woman In Black’ [TWIB] is representative of the current standard for horror movies, then that bar has been lowered somewhat by this film. I’m not saying this movie is really bad, but I did feel it was unremarkable. Apparently the public thought enough of it to make it number two for opening weekend box-office (very close behind the other new film, ‘Chronicle’); but I’m predicting it will fade quickly.

The film gives us Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps, a sullen widower who is down to his last chance at keeping his job with a law firm in early 1900’s London, England. His make-or-break mission is to travel upcountry to settle the affairs of a recently deceased client. Upon reaching his destination, he’s treated with suspicion and outright hostility by most of the locals from the village. He soon learns that the client’s remote house contains an evil spirit, and somehow that entity is bringing death to the children of the town for reasons Arthur has yet to learn.

Radcliffe is the only real well known principal in this. He does a decent enough job that you can easily forget about him waving a stick at Hogwart’s, but he is given very little to work with here. Almost every bit of the story seems weighted down by gloom and if spirits aren’t taunting his character, he is being haunted by his own troubled back-story. On the positive side, the film’s backgrounds and set pieces are excellent and really evoke the time period, right down to the antique toys and the Rolls Royce touring car.

Most horror movies fall into one of two categories. There are the slasher-style films, which include titles like ‘Halloween’, ‘Friday The 13th’, ‘and ‘Saw’. These films rely entirely on surprise and gore for their scream factor. The second category of films tend to be more psychological, playing reality against the supernatural, twisting your perceptions instead of just shocking the viewer with blood and mayhem. Classics of this second category include ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘The Exorcist’, and ‘The Haunting’ (the 1963 version, please).

TWIB falls into the second category, but I thought it failed to develop a consistent feeling of dread like some of the previously mentioned classics. To be sure, there are a few brief moments of surprise that will make you jump or flinch, but TWIB has some logic issues that prevent it from sustaining those fleeting thrills. I also thought the ending was a flawed attempt to add another bizarre twist, and it falls short there as well. If you’re a Radcliffe fan or have a thing for gothic-style tales, you may want to see this – but if your looking for real chills, you’d be better off just standing outside. [2/8/2012]


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