“I believe the most rational mind can play tricks in the dark.”
– Samuel Daily
So in my extreme movie run that I had, I had The Woman In Black on the list. I have been waiting for my boyfriend to have a few free minutes to watch this with me as he expressed the desire to see it, but he has been so damn busy! This weekend, though, I made sure that we were going to watch this, once and for all.
London lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) lost his wife during childbirth years ago, and is considered sad and angry by his son, Joseph (Misha Handley). Arthur is sent to a remote little countryside town to obtain paperwork for the sale of the dreaded Eel Marsh House when the owner passes away. Arthur is not keen on going so far away and leaving his son alone, but is threatened by his boss as to losing his job should he not be able to perform the duties.
Arthur leaves his son with the Nanny (Jessica Raine), and takes the next train out to the countryside, where he will be joined over the weekend by his son and his Nanny. On the train he meets and makes a new friend, Samuel Daily (Ciarán Hinds), a local who seems friendly enough. Arthur soon realizes that that in itself is terribly strange for the locals, as they all treat him extremely coldly and as though he is a criminal. Arthur is perplexed by how his treatment, and how desperate everyone seems to be to get him to leave town as soon as is humanly possible, going as far as to claim there was no room for him at the inn, as well as the deceased mother’s son basically chasing him clean out.
This serves no purpose other than to pique Arthur’s interest, as well as his resolve, and he gets a lift in to Eel Marsh House, intent on beginning his paperwork so as to be done by Friday. Upon arrival at the manor on the island, it becomes evident that when the tide comes up, there is no getting on to or off of the island, and that he will in essence be stranded. Never fear, Arthur has work to do, and so it shall be done. Staying at the house, however, seems absurd, and he sees a veiled woman in black (Liz White) observing him from just before the cemetery, yet she is gone when he goes to see her. Returning inland to report the woman to the local police station, a little girl is brought in, who lies dying in his arms. The locals become more hostile and brusque towards him, and Arthur almost feels as though it should be his fault.
He learns at dinner with Daily and his wife, Elisabeth (Janet McTeer), that they lost their son, Nicholas, a few years back. An awful lot of children seem to be dying off in the area, yet still Arthur knows nothing or is not really connecting and buying into the superstitions of the people in town, and returns to the house. The weird and the supernatural start occurring, and he cannot fathom nor explain the way he is convinced he sees people, or that he hears them, and that furniture moves in the house and candles die. Not one that believed in superstition prior to his wife’s death, he is unsure of how to handle it all. Just before his mind melts away, Daily returns to collect him to take him inland, where more havoc is being wreaked, and the locals have given up completely with him, and are ready to bring on the fire and pitchforks to banish him from their little seaside town.
Arthur’s menial little visit has finally escalated into full scale drama when Elisabeth reveals to him the secret of the Woman in Black, and how she terrorizes the townsfolk’s children for the loss that she suffered. Arthur has a plan, and recruits the help of Daily. Is it possible that they can put an end to the slayings once and for all?
I would score The Woman In Black 7/10. The film might have you wondering more often than not how Arthur can be so cut off and not freaked out by what is going on around him, but the show was orchestrated well. Not a million cheap jump moments packed into every available moment, but truly chilling scenes that pop up from time to time. It is not the world’s most solid or terrifying plot, but it was put together in a way that made sense. Daniel Radcliffe provided a solid performance as Arthur Kipps, and I truly feel that it highlights his acting abilities a little more effectively. There were many moments where I sat thinking he might be a little young for the role he was playing, but then one only needs to remember the era in which the movie was set, and it seems that much more believable. Not a bad watch by a long shot, I would recommend it.