The Woman in Black – UK, 2012

‘What did they see?’

The Woman in Black is a 2012 supernatural horror feature film directed by James Watkins from a screenplay by Jane Goldman, based on Susan Hill’s novel of the same name. It was produced by Hammer Film Productions.

The movie stars Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, and Liz White.

During opening weekend, The Woman in Black earned $20 million, the biggest US opening for a Hammer film in all of Hammer history. This is significantly more than the $11-$16.5 million industry analysts predicted it would bring in. The film also became the highest-grossing British horror film in twenty years.

Review:

Director James Wakins keeps things moving along, never allowing the film to slip into the overly slow pace that sometimes makes ghost stories heavy going, but also avoiding the CGI overkill of lamentable stuff like The Haunting remake.

The clichés and set-pieces of ghost stories are by now well-established, and Watkins and screenwriter Jane Goldman make the sensible choice of not trying to subvert or escape those clichés but instead embrace them, perhaps knowing that an entire generation of filmgoers are probably not that familiar with these images.

Hence, we get lights shutting down to announce the approach of the ghost, empty rocking chairs briefly being occupied, mysterious figures seen standing outside the house and more… as well as the creepiest clockwork toys you’ll ever see.

David Flint, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

“I’ll confess that James Watkins’s exuberant joy-buzzer direction had me jumping in my seat and clutching pathetically at the armrest. All the same, I remain undecided about Radcliffe, who endures each shuddering shock with a blank, stoic fortitude that suggests a teenager taking his driving test. He passes, but only just.” Xan Brooks, The Guardian

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