Review: The Woman in Black


MFR Rating: ★ ★
I’m not exactly a horror aficionado but The Woman in Black contains absolutely nothing I don’t feel like I’ve seen a million times before. It’s just another ghost story with things intermittently that jump out at you and really I struggled to feel interested.

Based on the 1983 Susan Hill novel, The Woman in Black is set in Edwardian England about a young lawyer, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), recently bereaved with a 4 year old son, traveling to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of an angry woman. She is terrorizing the locals with grave repercussions for the children of the village and Mr Kipps finds himself in this dark, haunted world.

The film’s biggest problem is Daniel Radcliffe who just lacks any screen presence and only manages to conjure one single expression throughout the film: blank. I think I can do ‘blank’ pretty well and looking into the mirror I can also do happy and sad so it could be argued I have better range. I’d love to know what he thought he was bringing to the role because he bored me completely. As an interesting aside, I was listening to an interview with Radcliffe on this week’s Kermode and Mayo’s Film review podcast. Although I must make it clear I always find him very charming, personable and energetic in interviews, one quote made me think. He commented that the whole movie industry runs off nepotism, of course. He then added without a hint of irony: “… but in the best possible way” by adding how nice it was that his make up artists during the Harry Potter films spanned generations. Of course no mention that he happens to be the son of two film agents. Given this performance and his lack of magic throughout the Harry Potter films it just shows nepotism might not be the best way to find acting talent, but we can understand why he supports it. Incidentally, the little boy who plays his son in this movie just so happens to be Radcliffe’s godson, with Radcliffe claiming without that personal connection it is very difficult to connect with a 4 year old. It’s called acting, dear boy.

That rather long rant aside, I struggle to find anything about this movie that sticks out. There’s one sequence about 20 or 25 minutes in length without any dialogue as we await the jumps and shock whilst Mr Kipps explores the haunted house which was moderately interesting and occasionally spooky. But I struggled to find any connection with any of it when all Radcliffe provided was his trademark ‘blank’ expression. Incidentally, in the UK it’s a 12a after a few small revisions by the BBFC but I’d certainly give a warning against taking kids smaller than 12 to see this film as the spookiness and jumps will be too scary. But all things considered, really rather forgettable.

The Woman in Black is out now in the UK and US. Running time 95 mins. Certificate 12a (UK).

Comments and feedback are always welcome or just give the film a rating by using the stars at the top.

Review by David Rank

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4 thoughts on “Review: The Woman in Black

  1. Enjoyed that review but in regards to nepotism its done as their is no other way as its such a personal business you can do big auditions but even that doesn’t necessarily stop it. Its an equivalent of death and taxes

  2. Yeah but it was interesting how he showed no self-awareness of his own position. And it’s funny how he said the only way he could connect with a child was to use a kid he had a personal connection with (ie his god son). I do generally think he’s a nice guy but he’s such a limited actor. I wonder how long it will take for the post-Potter roles to start drying up.

    1. Now thats a tricky question, as he both well connected and a name. He may be dull crap actor, I would give it 3-5 years unless get good roles and gives a good performance.
      Im using Orlando bloom as a reference point as he was noteworthy in LOTR for being pretty and new and not much else

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