When you’ve walked through a real horror house you become immune to most of the horror houses on the big screen. It takes something incredibly clever and unsettling to replace that Exorcist girl who chased me around a bedroom. That wasn’t clever, but it did scare the crap out of me. Enter The Woman In Black, a classic ghost story told in our modern age. Do these ghosts haunt my dreams or fade out into the distance?
The Woman In Black feels incredibly traditional through and through. Daniel Radcliffe takes on the role of widower, Arthur Kipps, who sets out to sort out some paperwork from an old empty house. For many, Daniel Radcliffe can only be seen as Harry Potter, though I stopped watching those films after the third, so I quickly brushed over this matter. The acting is a little distant, never truly drawing you in, and the tired horror tropes from days long gone crop up at every turn. Strange village, unsettled villagers and a house no one goes to. Add it all together and you have Just Another Ghost Story.
Though horror films don’t need to be particularly original to be scary, and this has a beautiful gothic set which evokes a sense of atmosphere, even if the wooden actors don’t. Just a shame they have such a creepy looking house and they only use loud noises and ghosts popping up against windows to startle the audience. It carefully sets up the frights with creepy toys going off and the kids dying in catastrophic accidents in the day, but the resulting impact the director attempts to shock us with always falls flat. Maybe they couldn’t go all out on a 12A age rating, but it could have offered us a little more variety on the scares. After the first night in the house which offers the best tension, it all peters out until the corny ending kicks in. It reminded me of Drag Me To Hell but without the shock factor.
It makes for a solid ‘My First Horror’, but I’m long past that. I’ve been chased by freaky girls and chainsaw horrors and I’ve seen films delve which follow the template with far more oomph and pizazz. The Woman In Black is a tame visit from the lady herself.
Did I scare you? Oh…