Movie Review: The Woman in Black

So reasons I can only attribute to innate masochism, I continue to see horror movies despite the fact that the very genre is in the grips of its own death throes; much like the undying killers that dominate the genre, Horror has seemingly died, and has gotten back up for the final scare. Any second now our beautiful young protagonist, hoarse from screaming, will stab or shoot him again and end this farce once and for all.

In between these final spasms, which disturb the otherwise tidy and symmetrical  pools of congealing blood, however, one may occasionally find a horror flick worth staring at for two hours whilst their face chews on popcorn or nachos. I believe The Woman in Black is just such a movie.

Taking place in the Grim Darkness of Victoria-style England, filthy streets and all, The Woman in Black stars Harry Potter as a depressed laywer type guy named Author Kipps who, years after the fact, is still in mourning over his wife. Like all movie dads with dead wives, he can’t keep it together and is failing at both career and fatherhood. Men take note; if you do ever get married, your wife dying will ruin your life pretty much forever. The only exception is if you find yourself in a romantic comedy and your stupid kids try to set you up with whatever woman they think would be the best mom. Then you live happily ever after.

Anyways, back to the movie: Harry Potter goes to some ugly and no doubt smelly sea town to sort out the affairs of a dead woman and her very large house that occupies it’s own island of a few acres. From there the creepiness and haunting begin.

And creepiness this movie has. The Woman in Black has it all; girls playing with dolls, a crow, superstitious townsfolk, horrifying toys, and the occasional death. This movie closely follows the rules of ghost stories, including having a mystery of why the ghost does what it does, and how one might set right what is wrong. It’s not entirely formulaic, though, and breaks a few rules to great effect.

Though there are deaths (primarily children), I wouldn’t call this a violent movie. There’s a bit of blood, but there is no gore or physical altercations, so it’s great if you want something that will freak you out and keep you in suspense without actually making you sick.

I think Daniel Radcliffe did a good job in this film. There are many child stars who can’t make the jump from their child stardom to continuing their work as an adult, but I think Radcliffe is doing great so far. He looks rather young in this movie, but he’s supposed to be a young dude so it’s okay.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes a good ghost story without the gunk most movies bury their ghost stories with, dirty pre Great War England, Daniel Radcliffe, or who thinks horror isn’t dying. I still think it is, but this movie might be evidence to the contrary.

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