Posted by: greercn | February 22, 2012

The Woman In Black

If you are in a haunted house, don’t wander into the cellar by yourself. Avoid the attic, too. Unless, of course, you are a character in “The Woman In Black”. Then, feel free to do these things.

Meander to the graveyard at night. Chase shadows and visions. Really, when Arthur’s employer says this guy gets easily distracted and needs to concentrate on work, you get to see ample evidence that this young man has an attention span issue or six and follows the slightest bump to its origin point.

Thankfully, I don’t have a basement so I should sleep fine.

As Arthur, Daniel Radcliffe channels Robert Pattinson in “Twilight”. Brooding, pale and troubled, we meet him at a moment of trauma.

I avoid spoilers in my reviews and I really want you to see this, so suffice it to say that liberties have been taken with Susan Hill’s novel by screenwriter Jane Goldman (Mrs Jonathan Ross). Goldman is becoming a really wonderful force for good in British film.

I had decided to skip this after friends said it was dull. Then, my friend Dean tweeted that he loved it. Dean and I always agree and the box office figures kept saying the public loved it, so I decided to go.

What a glorious treat! My big mention in this post has to be to Chris Moore who has done the most magnificent job as location manager. From the causeway to Osea Island to Layer Marney Tower near Colchester (Tiptree, actually) to a host of northern and southern train stations, it all looks amazing and pulls you in from the first frames.

Whoever is responsible for the glorious Victorian and Edwardian toys – probably Chris again – deserves an award. They are original and fabulous.

The changes from the original story enhance a gentle pace, light years away from the “Saw” and “Final Destination” versions of horror. Hammer declares itself to be a really worthwhile studio to follow in making this film, with a slew of co-creators and co-producers. James Watkins directs with great delicacy and control.

All is gently-paced and nuanced. At one point – quite key to the ghostly theme – an audience member decided to go see to a call of nature. Boy, she scared the wits out of me when I felt her brush behind me.

Of the other cast, Ciaran Hinds – so terrific in “Rome” and much else – really stands out.

The suspense builds and builds. Arthur goes to an old house to look at legal papers and sees a ghost or three. Is it real or is it in his troubled imagination?

Marco Beltrami’s brilliant score and Tim Maurice-Jones’ superb cinematography make this a real treat for all the senses.

So, even if you have read the book, seen the filmed versions and the plays and hate Harry Potter, do see this. It’s “Twilight” for discerning adults.

Everyone at the Stratford Picturehouse loved it, even the very young people.

I have one picky pedantic point to make. Men wear wedding rings here, which they didn’t do until, at the earliest, the 1920s. This is meant to be the late 19th/early 20th century. Sigh. I notice these things.

But no continuity gremlins can destroy the pure pleasure of this delightful movie. Go see it.



  1. It certainly was pretty and lovely, but I also had some “clutch pearls” moments. Trying desperately to avoid my trademark fasp and clutch, I steadfastly kept my hands down, but every hair on my body stood on end at least a couple of times.

    Those Victorian toys are fabulous, I have to agree, and the causeway magnificent.

  2. Thanks, Ken, for a great comment. I didn’t expect the chills as I know the story well. The changes made here work well and I glad I decided to see it. I wonder what happened to those magical toys after the movie wrapped?

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