I just got home from seeing The Woman in Black, and contrary to my usual no crybabies policy of spoiling every damn thing, I’m not going to tell you a thing about the plot. I will say that Daniel Radcliffe was very impressive. I think it was almost necessary to have a former child actor in the part, because a young person like Radcliffe who has been working hard most of his life has a better chance of projecting the world-weariness essential to the role. This is partly a story about grief. Fortunately, it’s grieving done the way we perceive it to have been done by the Victorians, so spiritualism is dabbled in and black is worn on the outside because it is felt on the inside. I felt very at home in this story.
I have read comparisons between this film and both The Orphanage and The Others. The similarities are really superficial. Those movies are very serious and this one is fun, if your idea of fun is being terrified. This is a classic haunted house movie which was done for entertainment purposes, and while watching it I felt that there was nothing on earth that could have gotten me to stay for even one minute in that house with those ghosts. That’s how I know the director has done his job. Of course, the house/set is gorgeous. It has vines on the outside walls, purple and crimson paint on the inside walls, chandeliers made of antlers, a lamp with a lampshade that spins and shows you a sort of flip animation, mist, wood floors, and its very own cemetery. It is a ghoul’s fantasyland. Too bad we can’t stay, baby!
I know that reviews are divided on The Woman in Black, and to make my final point about the film I’d like to quote another blogger whose site I read almost daily. In his review of the film, Unkle Lancifer wrote, “As far as I’m concerned, the world can keep its torture and rape and I’ll take all the wind up monkeys that come to life for no reason.” That’s how I feel. There are a lot of people out there who aren’t happy unless the horror film they’ve seen was a test of their endurance. I’m not one of those people. If you’re not either, you have to get your butt in a seat and see this movie in the theater. It’s not a great movie; they’re not putting those out in American cinemas anymore. But it’s a good popcorn horror movie, and those are rare.
P.S. In another 150 years, who do you think the lens of history will show as having been more morbid: the Victorians, or us?