The Woman in Black Review: Daniel Radcliffe Trades Wand for Scares

The Woman in Black Review: Daniel Radcliffe Tackles Tame HorrorThere is nothing particularly exceptional about The Woman in Black, the latest release from Hammer Pictures that happens to stars Daniel Radcliffe in his first leading post-Harry Potter role. But it will do the trick if you’re looking for a tame PG-13 scare.

Radcliffe delivers a surprisingly convincing performance as Arthur Kipps, a menial contract lawyer sent to the country to formalize the late Alice Drablow’s will and testament. Though local townsfolk attempt to physically block him from going to the estate, Kipps makes his way to the mansion and slips into a dark, dangerous world he had no idea lay before him.

In The Woman in Black there are creepy wind-up toys, vengeful ghosts, dead children, and superstition. Without any gore or violence, the story stays true to its Gothic roots – plenty of locked doors, ominous strangers, and flickering candle-lit rooms. The scares often come through noises or mirror reflections, so one never knows how or when the next one will come. Needless to say, I was a bit freaked.

Woman in Black Review: Daniel Radcliffe Tackles Tame Horror

At first, it was difficult for me to accept Radcliffe as the young widower and not a wand-toting schoolboy, but he quickly convinced me – due particularly to the minimal dialogue throughout the film. Director James Watkins puts Arthur Kipps in a frighteningly quiet space that aids in externalizing the character’s psychological turmoil. Rather than fully delving into this, however, the story stays on a superficial level with a few plot holes and unrealized red herrings.

Despite what it may be lacking in this regard, The Woman in Black is full of original and smoothly played scares. Every single person in the theater had their hands over their eyes at some point during the film. In this way, the movie was a total success.

Woman in Black Review: Daniel Radcliffe Tackles Tame Horror

Though I yearned for a bit more substance and thought, The Woman in Black is a Gothic horror story is definitely worth your time. And don’t blame me when you are looking over your shoulder for the next few nights to come.

– Perry Allen

The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, February 3, 2012.

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