Well, you have to give The Woman in Black one thing; she did provide a few jump-worthy moments (lord knows she was trying). But then there’s the other 90 minutes (out of 93)…a flat 90 minutes. And we’re not talking about her chest…though she was kind of cute for dead chick.
Despite all the creepy set pieces, this is just another generic horror flick. Except this one has Harry Potter himself in the lead role, Daniel Radcliffe. While he, and the rest of the cast (Ciaran Hinds and Jane McTeer are the only other prevalent performers), gave decent performances – especially considering this is a horror product – this type of haunted tale just seems dated after the last decade (Tooth Fairy, The Messengers, The Fog remake, etc.). Translation: boring.
It’s a story set in the early 1900s in a remote British village. Radcliffe plays a young lawyer who has to settle the affairs of a massive estate that is located off on a nearby island. The townspeople warn him to just go back to London but the guy feels the need to investigate what happened to the family that once lived in the giant recluse mansion. As he spends time going through old documents, he learns of a terrible tragedy revolving around a mother and her deceased son, which ended up driving her to suicide. However, she is somehow still lurking around.
As mentioned, there were a few scenes that will surely get the audience to jump yet there was opportunity for so much more. For instance, one sequence had Radcliffe falling asleep at a desk and a ghostly figure began creeping up from behind down a long hallway. The filmmakers give us the ghost’s perspective here and just go through the motions of a slow stalk accompanied by an eerie musical score. Well how many times have we’ve seen that before? Instead, while they’re still presumably telling the story through the ghost’s eyes at this moment, they should have had her step into that shot right behind Radcliffe to throw the audiences expectations off. Now this comes from a guy (me) who prides himself on knowing the horror genre, so this sequence will probably have the ability to build suspense with other spectators; but again, it’s nothing the casual horror fan has not seen before. And the payoff is usually a letdown.
Then there’s the stupidity angle that could drive some audience members nuts. Radcliffe’s more-or-less depressed character is underdeveloped. He does well with it, but his actions can be perplexing based on the situation he finds himself in. Once the haunting portion begins in this cluttered English mansion (twisted looking dolls and paintings are all over the place – actually looks like the house from Interview with a Vampire), it does not phase Radcliffe one bit. The guy is apparently too numb to be shaken by what is happening to him, but again (and again), the script never fully sells why he would choose to stay and deal with the supernatural happenings (objects moving, entities appear right in front of him, etc.). The dude looks as lost as the story.
Now atmosphere can play a huge role in these types of films and the environment does allow the story to breathe just a bit. Yet after everything, that is fairly obvious, is exposed, the final conclusion is less than satisfying.
Overall, The Woman in Black has the right look but when she opens her mouth, her physical attributes are negligible for most of the way. Although she has some nice moves here and there that can get you going, there’s a good chance you won’t be calling her back and will more than likely be deleting her from your life. And yes, I’m still talking about the movie.
RATING: 2 out of 5