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Movie Review: ‘The Woman in Black’ takes old horror back

Christina Collins Burton
Editor in Chief

Following the final Harry Potter movie and a Broadway show, Daniel Radcliffe reappears on the big screen as Arthur Kipps in “The Woman in Black.”

Advertised as a horror flick that needed to be watched in a group, the film did very little to meet the standards set by modern horror films but worked well with its PG-13 rating. The film had the same feel as Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow.”

Just like Burton’s film, “The Woman in Black” had its scary moments but overall was meant to entertain.

Instead of relying on gore or mind-games the film goes back to the golden age of horror where the audience would brace themselves for “jump scares.”

Now while I believe jump scares are weak attempts to get nervous giggles, the jumps are relatively well-timed that even I managed to scream in one part of the movie.

The story follows young lawyer Kipps as he goes to file the final paperwork of a recently deceased woman in a remote village.

While visiting the village, Kipps is treated like he is a leper and talked to as little as possible by the townspeople. His curiosity eventually leads to the big reveal of the main plot, and the story is able to build from there.

The story used in the film leaves a lot of room for creativity and in case of failure has a solid original story to fall back on.

The plot itself was simple and as the audience gathers clues with Kipps the twisted tragedy unfolds to reveal the history of the town’s haunting.

However, everything was so watered down that it almost seemed like director James Watkins was using the story as a crutch rather than allowing the movie to mature on its own.

By the time the credits began to roll, there were so many small questions eating away at the details that the ending’s impact was lost in the confusion.

The film kept only the main ideas of the original story and focused on Radcliffe’s character’s confusion over the town’s superstitions. Besides the occasional conversation about the history of the hauntings, Kipps was left on his own to lead the audience.

This approach of character development relies on glances of paperwork, photos and odd flashbacks to move the story along.

The biggest concern of many audience members was if Radcliffe would escape the robes of the wizarding world and take on new roles.

As we follow his character development in the film, it is clear that Radcliffe has smoothly moved on from the Potter series. His portrayal of Kipps demonstrated his ability to take on a new character with little echo of his previous wand-wielding self.

Overall “The Woman in Black” is entertaining as long as the audience has no attachments to the original story.

While this movie was a good first step for Radcliffe’s launch back into theaters, I suggest he stay away from British horror and fantasy if he does not want to end up type casted.

Christina Collins Burton can be reached at christina.burton@laverne.edu.

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