I like the fact that Hammer is back in business and that they are producing some decent quality horror films with a strong British flavour. I grew up on the horrors from Hammer and they terrified me as kid and were fairly reliable entertainment in the pre-VHS days when the only horror I saw regularly was on TV. So I took myself of to local cinema to see their latest film which was receiving positive reviews. I did enjoy the film but I did not like sitting in a noisy crowded cinema and I think I’ll try to keep to the quieter weekday matinee screenings from now on.
The film is set in Edwardian times and Arthur Kipp (Daniel Radcliffe) is a young lawyer with a five-year-old son. His wife died in childbirth and he is still grieving for her. His employers feel he needs to prove he is still capable of working for them and he gets assigned the task of sorting out the estate of a client who recently died. Her name was Mrs Drablow and she lived alone in a remote house on the northeast coast of England. Arthur has to travel up to Eel Marsh House and sort through any papers and official documents he can find. He leaves his son in the care of his nanny and sets off for long tiring train journey to the village of Crythin Gifford.
On the last stage of the journey Arthur meets Sam Dailly (Ciarán Hinds), a wealthy landowner with an estate near Crythin Gifford. Sam is pretty scathing about the superstitions of the locals and he sees himself as a rational man. He starts giving his low opinion of spiritualists when Arthur reveals that he believes he can sense the spirit of his dead wife. Sam gives Arthur a lift in his car from the station into the village and invites him to dinner at his house the following day.
There is little welcome to be found at the inn where Arthur had been expecting a room to be booked for him by his employers but the innkeeper denies receiving a booking and claims they are fully booked. If it was not for the terrible weather outside the innkeeper’s wife would not have convinced him to let Arthur stay in the attic. The following day Arthur gets the clear impression no-one want him around. He goes to Jerome the local lawyer’s office where Jerome promptly hands him a package of papers, assures him there no need to go to the house and tells him he has a horse and cart waiting to take him to the station to get his train back to London, nice seeing you, goodbye. This isn’t just normal inhospitality but more like they are terrified by his presence.
Knowing his employers would not be happy if he just went back to London he bribes the man with the cart to take him to Eel Marsh House. This a large house on an island linked to the mainland by a causeway across a muddy estuary that is submerged at high tide. The cart driver won’t be able return until low tide leaving Arthur alone on the island for several hours. Arthur looks around the dilapidated house and gathers papers together but he gets distracted by noises and he has look around the house. When he looks out the window he sees a woman dressed in black standing outside looking up at him. Arthur rushes outside and there’s no-one there. The causeway is covered in a thick fog, concealing it almost completely. He hears the sound of a horse and trap coming along the causeway then the sound it going off the causeway into the marsh and he hears the screams of the occupant as they are dragged down into the mud. He rushes out to help whoever it is but he finds nothing as he runs through the fog. Suddenly he meets the man with the cart who took him out to island.
The film follows Arthur as he tries as he tries uncover the curse of the Woman in Black. There are plenty of very well done jump scares and the films has a suitably gloomy depressed atmosphere like the film is in mourning. If forced to choose I would say that the TV adaptation is overall a scarier version but this is a solid well-made ghost story with a good supporting cast. Daniel Radcliffe is okay as Arthur Kipps and looked convincingly scared during the scenes at the house even it was harder to swallow the widower with child part. If you like old-fashioned ghost stories with little gore then you will probably enjoy this film.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Made in Britain: The Woman in Black (moonwolves.wordpress.com)
- Beyond the Hype: K’s Take on The Woman in Black (hypethemovies.wordpress.com)