The Woman in Black (UK, 2012)
Directed by James Watkins
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White
In a couple of recent articles for WhatCulture! , I talked about the revival of the Hammer brand and the resurgence of old-fashioned ghost stories. Both of these trends are typified by The Woman in Black, the latest from Eden Lake director James Watkins, and Hammer's first genuine assault on the mainstream, if we discount their involvement with the UK distribution of Let Me In. Quite apart from its healthy gross and lengthy period in UK cinemas, the film is a very good, old-fashioned chiller which rivals The Others among recent efforts in the ghost story sub-genre.
The Haunting: while the protagonists in those films are tormented by virtue of being in a certain place, Kipps almost goes looking for trouble as he pours through the paperwork as Eel Marsh House.
Shutter Island. Watkins really creates the sense of a house at the end of the world, where the temporal and the spiritual can interact and coexist.
The film has its fair share of scary moments which reinforce this theme. There are a lot of jump scares, involving doors slamming, loud noises and the recreation of a hanging, but they are at least executed in an inventive way. The best of these occurs when Kipps is in the nursery, and idly flicks through a zoetrope - only to see an eye peering through at him on the other side. This, along with the steady darkening of the main corridor and the infamous rocking chair, are very effective means of announcing the presence of the Woman in Black.
Verdict: A good old-fashioned ghost story