Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Woman in Black. C

For about twenty minutes The Woman in Black is a good film, a nostalgic, moody piece of British horror that sets itself miles apart from most contemporary fright flicks. It embraces dark, creepy bloodless suspense and all the classic tricks that make large empty houses the scariest places in the world. But then director James Watkins gets a bit too attached to traditional horror filmmaking to the point of parody. Daniel Radcliffe is playing a lawyer sorting out the house of a recently diseased woman, and it soon becomes clear that her ghost is lingering about. The plot itself gets fairly interesting as it unfolds, but Watkins' insistence on employing horror cliches at every turn becomes distracting. The movie has the potential to be a really good horror picture, but instead it becomes self-aware and self-indulgent, and as a result, hardly scary at all. As for Radcliffe, I can't help but wonder how much of a career he'll have, or, I should say, how long it will take for him to outgrow his youthful Harry Potter appearance and come across as a real adult. Here he's a grieving father, yet it's hard not to picture him as a teen wizard, even with the absence of glasses, some facial hair, a period suit and chain watch. The makings of something special are all here, yet Director Watkins blunders too often. He's clearly inspired by old-fashioned horror, yet perhaps he should watch Jack Clayton's The Innocents for a lesson on restraint. 

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