The Woman in Black (2012)
Directed by James Watkins
For a Hammer film, I would expect no less than a gothic ghost-tale, taking place in a deserted mansion, in the countryside of England. Being a period piece only adds to the true Hammer experience of yesteryear. These were elements missing from the re-launched Hammer production’s previous films.
A young lawyer, Arthur Kipps, struggling to provide for his motherless son, is sent on a countryside journey to the estate property, known as the Eel Marsh House. After the passing of the last living relative, Alice Drablow, it is Mr. Kipps’ assignment to wade through the mountain of paperwork at the decrepit estate, in order for his firm to gain the rights to sell it. At the Estate, Mr. Kipps begins to hear strange noises which lead to the frequent sighting of the Woman in Black, a ghastly, dark presence that haunts the Eel Marsh House. In town, there are several deaths of children. Mr. Kipps begins to investigate a recurrence of child deaths throughout many years and their ties to the Eel Marsh House. The intriguing story unfolds in layers as the mystery is revealed.
Daniel Radcliffe plays the young lawyer, Arthur Kipps, wonderfully, sporting old-English style side-burns, causing one to wholly forget his Harry Potter persona. Ciarán Hinds plays an outstanding supporting role as the local neighbor, Sam Daily, who, years earlier, lost his own son to tragedy.
The Eel Marsh House provides a fantastic setting, almost like a character itself; it sits upon an isolated hill that becomes surrounded by water during high tide. There is a small family graveyard on the property, which adds to the creepiness of the house and exudes the perfect atmosphere for sightings of the veiled, woman in black. The inside of the mansion is suitably run-down, genuinely old, and neglected, with cob-webs, worn edges and dimly lit areas for evil to hide. The cinematography in this film was exceptional, portraying the ugly-beauty of the age tattered estate.
The Woman in Black is a classic, old-fashioned ghost story. It’s a slow-burn with a small cast and low-key feel, self contained in the sparse community surrounding the estate. This is not the full-on, ‘Poltergeist’ style ghost film. The haunting is subtle; a noise, a toy turning on for no reason, a movement seen in the mirror, and movement in your peripheral vision. It is the type of film that I have purchased on DVD for my own collection and watch it often around Halloween. If the new Hammer Films would make all of their movies in this style and not try to compete with Hollywood, I would be quite pleased.
parlor of horror – movie review