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The Woman In Black [12A]

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Daniel Radcliffe plays young lawyer Arthur Kipps who travels to a haunted town.

Some reviewers have noted that this does not exactly represent a huge step forward for young Daniel Radcliffe in his post-Potter future career, and indeed cinema-goers are likely to be beset by an eery deja-vue: he gets on a big noisy steam-train, he arrives at a big dark creepy house, very weird scary things happen to him, he looks extremely stressed, he feels compelled to save people even at great personal risk, and the climax of the whole thing takes place at a railway station. I won't give away the end, which departs in a pleasingly Potteresque fashion from the original novel and the much-admired stage play. The film is beautifully done, with stunning period detail (why is it that Victorian clockwork toys are so terrifyingly creepy?). It ticks all the boxes of its genre and even though you know what's coming it is still genuinely scary (it's a 12A but I wouldn't take anyone younger than 10 to see it) - even the chattering, giggling, pop-corn munching sceptics I saw it with were cowed into respectful silence punctuated by uncontrollable gasps and squeaks of fright. A must-see gothic treat.

Andrea Hopkins (DI Reviewer), 20/02/12

Susan Hill (author of the book Woman in Black) put the following on her website:

"In 1982, I decided I wanted to try and write a full length ghost story in the traditional English style. I made a list of `ingredients'- I don`t often write in this very conscious way but it was necessary here.

Ingredients included

1. A ghost... not a monster or a thing from outer space but the ghost of a human who was once alive and is known to have died but whose recognisable form re-appears - or occasionally is not seen but heard, or possibly even smelled.

2. The haunted house... usually isolated.

3. Weather... atmospheric weather conditions - fog, mist, snow, and of course moonlit darkness on clear nights.

4. A sceptic. A narrator or central character who begins as a sceptic or plain disbeliever and scoffer but who is gradually converted by what he or she sees and experiences of ghostly presences."

So we know we're in for a formulaic thriller...don't we? Well, no. Firstly, there are at least 10 occurrences in the film that caused me to almost jump out of my skin - and that is despite seeing Scary Movie and various X-files (which thus takes some of the horror out of Woman in Black). Secondly, the film is very different from the book. Thirdly, though the film is well-made, I found the ending rather weak. Yes, it was unexpected - but also somewhat illogical.

Surprisingly, the film is a 12A yet I found it much more frightening than (for example) Paranormal Activity.

So, if you like films that make you jump - go!

Tickets (Vue) were quite cheap too...

chrisOSL (DI Reviewer), 16/02/12

The Brits have always been very good with haunted house stories and this film is no exception. It also has a Hammer style to it and no surprise, as it's produced by Hammer - world famous for their gothic style. One indeed would not be that surprised to see Christopher Lee walking in that scary house or Peter Cushing appearing, wooden crucifix in hand, about to kill a vampire. But this is not a film about vampires - it is a film about ghosts and a haunted place. A young lawyer is sent to work on the estate of a certain Alice Drablow. He decides to go to her house to read the papers but he is soon interrupted in his work by noises coming from upstairs and he starts seeing things - or rather someone: a woman in black.

I think quite a few people in this island have a lot of tenderness for Daniel Radcliffe; we have seen him as a child, as a teenager and now a young man. He is the British equivalent of Jean-Pierre Léaud, the Antoine Doinel of the François Truffaut series. He does not disappoint in this role and is very convincing as a young widower doing his best to save his job. Ciarán Hinds, also familiar from Harry Potter, plays a local landlord favourable to him. Janet McTeer plays his wife. Overall, a great cast and a great evening spent at the cinema.

Lucile Deslignères (DI User), 11/02/12

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