Hammer has long been the production house of classic horror films and when you see a film under the Hammer banner, you know it’s going to be an old school horror story. The Woman in Black doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
The Woman in Black is a remake of the 1989 film with the same name. It is based on a classic story of a vengeful ghost who haunts a house (Eel Marsh House) and is purported to have a hand in a spate of killings in a small town. A young lawyer by the name of Arthur Kipps is then sent to settle the testament of the late owner of the Eel Marsh House. Upon arriving in the small town, Kipps discovers that many of the town’s children have been killed recently in very suspicious circumstances.
Working alone in the mansion, Kipps starts to unravel the town’s tragic secrets and that of the mansion. He then becomes the target of the Woman in Black and must figure out what happened in order to solve this mystery and save those closest to him.
The Woman in Black is Daniel Radcliffe’s first outing beyond the Harry Potter series, and is by no means the most convincing one. He plays a young Englishman, which falls into his comfort zone as actor, but unfortunately comes off as bland and dull. The star of this film is undoubtedly the mansion itself. It is spooky and eerie and chills you by just looking at it. Unfortunately that is the scariest part of the film. Although, the production design is absolutely spot-on and the house truly does feel haunted, Director James Watkins relies too much on old horror film tricks and eventually they become very gimmicky. The story itself is not as scary as it could be, and with that in mind, Watkins tries to scare and unsettle the audience with cheap scare moments.
The film potters along (excuse the pun) during the middle section and then concludes rather unsatisfactorily. This is a story with so much potential and if it were made twenty years ago it would have been really good. Now, the film relies on old tricks and a clichéd story to scare its audience. The film, although well-made and nicely shot, is unconvincing and falls a bit flat in the end.
There are better and scarier whodunit haunted house horror movies out there.