Sometimes you get sucked into seeing a film because of the actors involved. So, when the enormously successful Harry Potter chap tackles a new genre, I’m game. In his new film, “The Woman in Black,” Daniel Radcliffe may have been best served passing on it.
The storyline is so full of holes, it’s difficult to relate. Radcliffe’s character, Arthur Kipps, a widowed father, is sent by his law firm to a remote English village. Once there, he’s to collect papers from the home of a deceased client (why?). Upon arrival, Kipps realizes he’s extremely unwelcome. Seems the dead woman’s ghost has been luring the village children to their deaths. Why his presence there has anything to do with their icy reception is totally unclear.
To further murk the waters, Kipps is befriended by a resident, Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds), whose young son died under mysterious circumstances. His wife (Janet McTeer) claims she communicates with the dead boy, which really has no bearing on the flimsy plot.
I was confounded by the fact that director James Watkins (“Eden Lake”) managed to assemble such a glowing cast with such a dull script. McTeer, up for an Oscar this year (“Albert Nobbs”), is excellent as the wacko wife but has a measly two scenes. Hinds (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”), who is always a joy to watch, also does a fine job, given with what he has to work. And Radcliffe expertly pulls off the lead role of the befuddled Kipps, demonstrating depth beyond Potter.
I do have to give high marks to cinematographer Tim Maurice-Jones. The sprawling gray landscapes of Northern England are exquisitely captured by his lens. His interior shots of the haunted house provide the bulk of the fear that this Gothic horror film exudes. And the extensive attention to detail greatly enhances the visual experience.
A great horror film can take hold of you and never let go. “The Woman in Black” never achieved establishing that grasp. The expectations were high, the delivery low.
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