59. The Woman in Black (PG-13) - Runtime: 95 minutes
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds
Director: James Watkins
I'm not a horror movie fan, but I can stomach really good horror movies that aren't just cheap scares or too corny. I will admit the movie looked a bit corny - but this movie is in my wheelhouse. I'm all about Gothic novels set in 19th century England (Jane Eyre, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Monk) and this movie looked decent enough for me to check out. Unfortunately, the movie didn't really live up to my expectations of what I expect with the Gothic genre (well, at least what I know about Gothic novels). Maggie even decided to sit down with me to watch it (which was surprising given that the last time she sat down with me to watch a horror movie I think we both had terrible, awful nightmares. Nightmares about how awful and disgusting Silent Hill was. Seriously, that movie was just plain gross and not at all scary - it's like the filmmakers decided to throw all their demented ideas on a wall and even if it didn't stick, they put it in the film. So so so terrible.) and I think she and I agree this movie was really not worth our time.
Daniel Radcliffe plays a young widowed lawyer who has to go to a small village to settle an estate - the Eel Marsh House. As soon as he arrives there's much more sinister happenings afoot and he becomes obsessed with finding out the truth of the secrets the townsfolk are hiding. It's a fairly typical ghost story - there's a tall tale from the village that when one see the Woman in Black, kids start dying. And that's exactly what happens. It's actually really creepy when they do show glimpses of the woman, but aside from that, the movie is pretty light on actual scares.
Aside from all the creepiness, the movie is just plain dull and slow. It takes what seems like forever to find out what really happened at the Eel Marsh House and by then you just want things to conclude. I personally found the story to be awfully intolerable - I hate it when there's really no Scooby-Doo like ending where you find out it wasn't really anything supernatural. Or better yet, when the movie leaves you wondering just what was real and what was really just deliriousness or manifestations of the main character going crazy. No, instead (SPOILER ALERT) you're forced to believe that yes, there is a Woman in Black who is a real ghost and that when the kids see her they follow her to their death. It's just such a boring and drab way to end the movie. (END of SPOILERS).
I will give credit to the movie - it does create a great atmosphere. The Eel Marsh House is suitably mysterious and scary and their are moments when the tension is very thick. Although the movie has a bit of a creepy toy fetish - like old-timey wind-up, monkey toy fetish. They incessantly bang you over the head with this idea of lost innocence it becomes quite annoying rather than engaging. And the dull plot gets in the way of any real terror and dread that the film establishes. This movie had a lot of potential - it could have been more psychologically disturbing, but instead it's just another ho-hum ghost story.
So, no this movie isn't going to scare you, nor is it that entertaining. You're better off reading one of the many great Gothic novels because at least those have some better scares and quite a bit more intrigue.
Rating: Not Worth Paying For!