Review: The Woman In Black

By Kayleigh Herbertson

Watching The Woman in Black is, first and foremost, a joy for those of us who have grown tired of endless Saw imitations and are seeking something different than simplistic gore.

Whilst some may find the slow build of this film to be nothing short of painful, this film is an artful use of tension and discord that really shouldn’t be missed.

The Woman in Black has Arthur Kipps as a young lawyer who finds himself in difficult times, caring for a young son and still mourning the passing of his young wife, years ago.

He is sent away to a remote village to look over the documents of a recently deceased widow, as a last chance for him to redeem himself to the firm.

Daniel Radcliffe plays this role superbly, never looking anything less than a man who has come to the end of his rope. His chiselled jaw is always forlorn, covered in stubble and the joyful smile that we saw so often in the Harry Potter series is utterly destroyed and despondent.

The Woman in Black has allowed him to stretch, presenting himself as a tortured man who never quite knows or understands what’s going on around him.

Indeed, many of the cuts seem to encourage us to feel that WE know more than poor Arthur does; we always see the trouble coming before he does.

Almost immediately upon his arrival, calamity starts to hit the village and Kipps soon discovers how many children have died over the years. Glimpses of a Woman in Black suggest something foul is afoot, that could put his own young son at risk.

Some elements of The Woman in Black support some of my favourite aspects of previous Hammer Films. The villagers support an oppressive feeling of despair right from the start.

We are immediately brought into this terrible life they lead, where their children may, at any moment, be forced to destroy themselves by the vengeful woman in black.

That deep-set frustration and rage in every man, that heart breaking pain in the face of every woman is what really makes this film disturbing, particularly the husband and wife that Kipps ends up staying with.

Part way through, when Kipps volunteers to spend the night at the house alone, I did wonder if the rest of the film would be him jumping at shadows.

Whilst this was easily the part of the film that had me jumping the most, I was glad that we returned the to village for more story to finally bring the film to its conclusion.

This is not a film that presents horror for horror’s sake, and it is an excellent rendition of a British novel that shows the deep love and despair we can all feel when separated from those we love.

It’s this emotion, rather than any physical action, that is the hinge of The Woman in Black, creating an oppressive and terrifying tale that you shouldn’t miss out on.

Check out Kayleigh’s feature on Hammer’s welcome return.

The Woman in Black is out now, at cinemas.

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3 thoughts on “Review: The Woman In Black

  1. This version of ‘The Woman in Black’ definitely exceeded my expectations and some bits were even brilliant in terms of being really terrifying. However, I do not think I am the only one who thinks that some things in the film are totally unrealistic. Ghosts are in themselves a kinda of a fantasy, but when one sees a person looking at a chair swinging by its own accord, and far from freaking out, that person takes it as though he sees that every day, one cannot stop but to think that its a totally unrealistic reaction to expect from any human being, however brave he may be. The director or whoever is after that made Kipps a man of steel, iron, whatever, a sort of fearless terminator. The film could have been better if Kipps were, at least sometimes during the film, half as afraid as the audience were.

  2. Personally, I never felt Kipps was strong until they enacted the plan towards the end. Until then I viewed him as numb, unable to show any emotion including half the fear he was experiencing.

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