Daniel Radcliffe leaves his "Harry Potter" role behind and plops himself down in the middle of an old time horror movie. This is the kind of film where there are chills and thrills but no overt violence and gore. It is all in the suspense and “The Woman In Black” has plenty of that and more.
Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young attorney who is the father of a four year old son. His wife, and the child’s mother, died in childbirth. Now the boy is four years old and Arthur has fallen on difficult times. His law firm assigns him one last case and says if he doesn’t do a good job with it he will be dismissed.
The case involves an estate in a distant village. He goes there by train with plans for his son and the nanny to meet him there in a few days. On the train he meets a man named Daily (Ciaran Hines) who lives in the village where Arthur is going. He even invites Arthur to have dinner the next night with him and his wife (Janet McTeer).
Arthur’s reception in the village is hostile. The villagers do not want him there and they certainly do not want him going out to the estate which he is investigating. Later Arthur learns that the estate is supposedly cursed and the “spirits” there take their vengeance out on the villagers’ children.
The longer Arthur stays at the estate the more he is convinced that something is terribly wrong. He even sees the mysterious “women in black” and witnesses the death and terror that follows her appearance.
Radcliffe is most convincing in his role as a lawyer in the early 1900’s who prizes family above everything else. The actor went from playing a high school senior to a role requiring him to be the father of a four year old son and he pulls it off. The movie is totally dominated by Radcliffe and his character, and he makes it all suspenseful and believable from start to finish.
The supporting cast is strong with Hines and McTeer adding depth as a couple who have also suffered a tragic loss. Hines has a craggy face that shows pain and suffering easily while McTeer adroitly strikes the balance between a sane woman and one delving into madness.
The film is rated PG-13 for horror and profanity.
“The Woman In Black” is a return to horror movies that created their chills through suspense. There are no blood and guts moments in this movie but the fear factor permeates every scene. Somehow that makes for good entertainment.
I scored “The Woman In Black” a ghostly 7 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper www.jackiekcooper.com