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The Woman in Black (2012)

Novel by Susan Hill Screenplay by Jane Goldman Directed by James Watkins

Synopsis: Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) hasn’t had the best luck dealing with the death of his wife Stella (Sophie Stuckey), having passed away while giving birth to their son Joseph (Misha Handley). Now finding himself forced into going away on business as the Law firm he works for has been sympathetic up until this point. But needing someone they could count on that would also be a good representation for their agency. Assigned with the task of traveling to widowed Alice Drablow’s estate so as to shuffle through a “mountain of paperwork” and ensure they had a finalized last will and testament. However upon arriving to the District of Crythin, doesn’t receive quite the welcoming he might have expected. It’s almost as though everyone he comes into contact with would prefer if he just turned right back around and went to London. Though he otherwise makes a friend or two that assist in eventually reaching the Manor, he’s plagued with constant images playing with his mind. Soon after his first visit to the house, engages in what the town so rightfully fears as a little girl is brought to her death before his very eyes.

It seems the widow’s sister, Jennet Humprye (Liz White), has held a curse over the town due to her Alice’s betrayal. Having her deemed mentally unfit, her son Nathaniel was taken away and after his loss stated in never forgiving her, shortly committing suicide after. Losing him to the Marshlands where the body was never discovered. Arthur finds resentful letters left behind, left to wonder what exactly the townsfolk were not telling him. Conflicted with his own thoughts of what the afterlife could bring and whether any facet of it was reality or simply superstitious rubbish. Later attending a dinner with the Daily’s leaves further impressions as Samuel’s (Ciarán Hinds) wife Elizabeth (Janet McTeer) claims in still being connected to their son Nicholas, who they had also lost; as was the case with most children in the town. Though despite their efforts, knows that his livelihood was very well at stake and no matter what anyone tried to tell him, that staying at the house to complete his mission was the only foreseeable option. No matter the consequences.**

At first glance one may be discouraged at seeing Harry Potter switch from the realm of wizardry to simply chasing ghosts in the night. However, never having had a personal interest in that 10 year-long saga didn’t deteriorate from how I viewed Radcliffe in this film. Which I otherwise didn’t think would occur. Audiences have had their fair share of ghost stories in just about all forms. The ideas being so limitless, ranging from the light and comedic to the downright eerie. Only periodically watching something that can truly strike a nerve in the best sense, which we can only hope will always be the case. Initially The Woman in Black was a novel written in 1983. The adapted into a British TV film in 1989 and then again as a stage play later on. However this film is it’s own adaptation and not directly a remake of the priors.

Though hearing the people behind the film state that their intention was not in making a period piece, it’s simply something that can’t be avoided while watching. Which doesn’t have to take away from something per say. It does carry a desaturated look throughout with a morbid context that gave the film a different but overall better feel all together. It’s quiet in the sense that it doesn’t depend on a score though a slight one is provided. There’s even a certain point when Arthur returns to the house and he’s surrounded by silence for a good portion of the film. Learning of the past behind the house through letters as well as the scenery as he lingers. Which can go either way for a film. Giving the sense of being watched by having the camera create a slow creep whenever in the house. Unable to tell whether it wold bear another appearance from Jennet’s ghost or simply the shadows he continued to chase. Timing within a film always being an important factor. Which was a favorite thing for myself in that the scares were able to speak for themselves, giving little indication of when they would surface and at the lengths in between such. Most of the time the music or situation can be a bit too predictable or give away too much all together, which wasn’t the case.

And while the story itself cannot be credited for it’s originality, having long since going through it’s separate depictions. It was certainly more thought out by this point as all the little things added to make the film that much more interesting along the way. For instance, paying enough attention, you will find that the woman in black was added throughout several unnoticeable scenes in the background while showing the grounds. Gotta love those extra touches. I also liked that it ended with everything Arthur essentially tried having no effect on Jennet. At the end of the day it was just a good ol fashioned revenge story with a theme of family. Because while Arthur tried giving Jennet her peace by connecting her with her son in the end, it didn’t matter. She was adamant about never forgiving. Being sure the only way to exact that revenge was in taking every young child she could and maintained that revenge to the very end. Though in the same context, was able to give Arthur the peace he long searched for with how the film ended.

Mad Facts: The incredible and oh so creepy dolls used in the film were obtained from a collector in America, all authentic.

~Misha Handley is actually Daniel Radcliffe’s godson which was a casting choice made by himself. Stating that the connection could only be stronger if already having that relationship.

~While in the film the drivers state of not being able to pick up Arthur at certain times, as the tide would come in and desamate the trail, such was in fact the case while filming in Essex. They were only allotted 4 hours of shooting a day while there.