Released: Monday 18th June 2012
Director: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hands, Janet McTeer, Roger Allan
Running Time: 95 mins
It must have been a huge relief for Daniel Radcliffe when The Woman In The Black‘s opening weekend saw the US Box Office total grossing $20,874,072. Starring in a recording breaking and very popular franchise doesn’t mean you are guaranteed success afterwards: just take a look at Taylor Launter and Abduction.
Even if the film didn’t do particularly well, Mr Radcliffe still made a smart decision in wanting to be part of it. Choosing a film based on much-loved story (sound familiar) and one of the most successful stages plays ever guarantees a built-in audience however small or big that may be.
Everyone who has seen the stage play will know the score; Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer, travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman terrorizing the locals.
What could have transcended into typical haunted house/ghost story schlock doesn’t because of three key things: James Watkin’s superb direction, Jane Goldman’s impeccable adaptation and Daniel Radcliffe’s sturdy leading performance.
The difference between Taylor Launter and Daniel Radcliffe; Daniel Radcliffe can act and Taylor Launter is ham-fisted actor with a magnum look. Radcliffe’s performance as Alan Strang – in Equus – provided good practise for the emotional requirements of Arthur Kipps.
The most criticism made against The Woman In Black was everyone thought Daniel Radcliffe was miscast as the father Arthur Kipps. I personally thought Daniel Radcliffe did an excellent job. During the Edwardian era, it was common for a young male adult to have children and start a family.
From the film’s opening moments, watching Arthur Kipps’ wife slip away and seeing Arthur’s reaction is a hammer blow, we are automatically on Kipps’ side. As Kipps begins to face the haunting woman wearing black of the title, you feel Kipps is beginning to come to terms with the death of his wife, which is strangely comforting.
Even though it’s very early in the film, it’s a defining moment as Radcliffe’s Kipps’ finds himself being the town pariah and the woman in black’s new best friend. As the action moves towards Eel Marsh Manor, the hauntings begin to rack up the tension as James Watkins beings to flex his directorial muscles.
It’s very comforting to see Watkins use J. Bayona’s The Orphanage as a reference for The Woman In Black as Watkins makes turns Eel Marsh Manor into a foreboding, chilling household. Watkins skilfully seduces the audience with gut-retching atmosphere and dread with the use of sound effects and scares ranging from prowling to in-your-face.
Nevertheless, Watkins never forgets to make sure Arthur Kipps is the main focus of the story. Plaudits should also go to Jane Goldman for creating a screenplay that captures the spirit of the novel and the highly acclaimed stage play and, for once, given a horror film a proper ending with no superficial add-on.
It’s not all perfect; tension slowly decreases after the hour mark as the film moves towards its resolution, but the adaptation could’ve been a lot worse. James Watkins and Jane Goldman have launched themselves into the A-List and Daniel Radcliffe proves he’s no boy wizard anymore.
The DVD has two video interviews with Daniel Radcliffe, James Watkins and Jane Goldman talking about The Woman In Black; how they each got involved and what drew them to the project.
An interesting and insightful making-of documentary with James Watkins and the cast talking about how the constructed of The Woman In Black. The DVD includes the winning ghost-story short film from The Woman In Black YouTube Competition and James Watkins and Jane Goldman audio commentary.