The Woman in Black (2012) review
The Woman in Black was the first film I had seen with Daniel Radcliffe as the main protagonist without him playing the role of Harry Potter. Despite it being a riveting film – for the life of me I couldn’t remember his characters name at the end. In fact, throughout the film I acknowledged him as Harry and not Arthur – the actual character he plays – due to being so indoctrinated by the HP franchise.
Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a lawyer and widower summoned to a remote mansion to settle its recently-deceased owner’s estate. Upon arrival in the quaint yet spooky town, a loose-lipped local landowner lets slip a few details about a mysterious, cloaked woman who’s occasionally glimpsed at the window of the remote mansion in question. This woman is suspect of taking revenge on the town through the killing of the town children. This haunting seems to re-appear when Kipps arrives – whom we find out also has a young son.
A horror flick should inflict some serious scares and boy does The Woman in Black deliver. They seem innocent enough to begin with – the first scare is due to a tap turning on forcefully within the walls of the Eel Marsh mansion. It’s the kind of scare you laugh off along with the rest of the audience, but it caused an uneasy feeling amongst the crowd. During my entire viewing of this film, I dreaded the night scenes and prayed for daylight – they way all good horror films should make you feel.
Director James Watkins masterfully uses the dark and plays with shadows to create tense viewing – the type of which you clench onto your seat until you are given the relief of a good scare followed by another that was less anticipated. Despite it’s 12A certificate – the film does make you jump and shudder inwards, even with the sparse full sightings of the dreaded cloaked woman. This effect is intended to make your imagination run wild – was it her in the shadows or was it something else?
Kipps learns a great deal more about the cloaked terror first-hand when, in order to finish his paperwork on time, he decides to spend the night at Eel Marsh House himself, not believing the ghost stories the town dwellers spout. The house itself is terrifying, filled to the brim with horrific porcelain dolls and old-fashioned toys – a spiders web for unwitting children. The house has a dark, creepy ambiance making the viewer want out almost as much as the character does.
During his stay, he sees the woman and also hears a carriage accident on the marsh with the sound of a child screaming, however, when he goes to investigate – the what would be submerged carriage is nowhere to be found.
The film is bursting with jump scares, so if a huge spike in your blood pressure is not your thing you won’t like The Woman in Black. The film does hold the tension for a good while, making scares not instantaneous leaves you with more anxiety about the next one.
Throughout the film, we are fronted with the deaths of the village children. The film starts with three girls, who during their tea party, are mesmerized by something off screen making them stand and commit suicide by jumping out their bedroom window. It’s a stark first shock to set the tone for the rest of the film in which we also see a little girl who has ingested Lye and collapses into Kipps’ arms, dying. The deaths of which are all blamed on Kipps due to him seeing ‘that woman’. It becomes known to Kipps after a run in with the girls father that the myth of the woman is that if you ever lay eyes on her, a child dies.
We later find out the name of the woman to be Jennet – who is the real mother to the Drablow’s son Nathaniel who drowned years before. The son who we know is dead is later revealed to have been killed and subsequently drowned in a carriage accident on the marsh – like the one Kipps heard whilst visiting the mansion. Nathaniel was left in the marsh after his death – thus sparking the anger of Jennet who hangs herself in the nursery of Eel Marsh house – starting off the hauntings.
After another encounter with the woman in the nursery during her death scenario, Kipps flees the scene just in time to be picked up by Mr. Sam Drablow. On the way back to town, the scene of another child’s death is shown. In a rescue attempt Kipps finally fully sees the woman and the effect she has on the children – who seems to goad them to their own suicides. The story takes a turn when in one of her episodes, Mrs. Drablow confesses she knows the next victim of Jennet – The Woman in Black – who turns out to be Kipps’ son Joseph who is arriving at the town the day after. In a last bid to appease her, Kipps and Sam find Nathaniel’s body in the marsh and bury him beside Jennet in the cemetery.
The next day, assuming they have subdued the cloaked woman, Kipps greets his son at the railway station and bids farewell to Sam. Whilst waiting for the train, Kipps sees the woman tempting Joseph into the path of an oncoming train. Trying to save his son, Kipps dives into the path of the train and we see a shot of Sam’s face in shock. Keeping the audience waiting in hope for their survival – Sam sees the ghosts of the dead children on the opposite platform who are accompanied by Jennet who screeches at Sam. The film ends on a somber note, showing Kipps and his son notice a woman on the tracks who he acknowledges as his long dead wife – confirming their fate.