Already doing big box office in the US, The Woman in Black is a classic British horror movie which thinking audiences will love.
A remote country location, superstitious locals, a large daunting and mysterious house, a dark secret within and a reluctant hero – this is a Hammer Horror worthy of the name.
Director James Watkins eschews gore and cinema’s current overdone conceit of shaky cameras (largely used to hide the absence of plot or acting ability) in favour of a tight plot, atmospheric sets and some spine tingling music.
So far, pretty staple ingredients of any thriller or horror. But to those he adds a very special ingredient – the acting talents of Daniel Radcliffe.
When I interviewed Watkins last August, he told me: “I’m really proud of [Daniel’s] performance in this film, I think he shows a really new side, a different side to himself as an actor and in terms of his range and where he’s willing to go.”
But even forewarned I was unprepared for just how good Radcliffe is.
For much of the film he’s the only actor onscreen so the credibility of the entire movie rests on his performance. Lucky then that he’s superb, showing just the right balance of fear, bravery and inner-pluck.
With The Woman in Black, Radcliffe proves (if anyone needed such proof) that he’s far more than Harry Potter.
As always, this is a spoiler-free review but I’ll happily confess that the film provoked a few jumps from me and my fellow critics. There was also some nervous laughter when we wanted the others to think we weren’t scared.
Simply the best horror movie in years.
Our verdict: (a very rare) 5/5
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