November 21, 2014
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The Woman in Black
Don Fowler
2.5 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Eerie formula ghost tale)

If you are a fan of this genre, you may rate "The Woman in Black" a bit higher.

Daniel Radcliffe has grown up and will certainly get juicy roles as an adult. In this eerie but formula ghost tale he plays Arthur Kipps, a despondent, reserved, meek lawyer who is given one more chance to keep his job. He is sent to a godforsaken village in the north of England, where he is to settle a rich woman's estate.

Little children stare out windows at him. Adults reject him at every turn. There is no room at the eerie inn, where we watch three little girls jump out of a window before the opening credits.

What's going on here? Why are children dying? Why won't anyone, with one exception, talk to him?

Kipps settles into the old, creepy, isolated mansion to check out old records and gets more than he bargained for. Things go bump in the night. Doors are locked and then mysteriously open. Dolls stare and toys move. Faces appear in windows. A rocking chair rocks. Shadows appear in the night. And then there's that woman in black who is always watching him.

All of the typical ghost story surprises that make you jump are there. The big difference is the gothic setting that allows for great cinematography, costumes and manners.

Radcliffe stares and ponders a lot as the troubled young man, still trying to deal with the death of his beloved wife, raise his son, and snap out of his depression. He carries a blank stare with him as he roams throughout the house, grounds and cemetery, following strange noises and ghostlike images, never showing the fear that he must have felt. It is a very contained performance for an actor who showed all of the emotions of Harry Potter.

Kipps and his one friend (Ciarin Hinds) eventually face the ghosts of the manor and the mystery of the woman in black is solved. I won't give away the ending, but it was a bit of a stretch.

If you like ghost stories and can accept the usual jolts, loud music and familiar techniques, go and enjoy. Otherwise, you can skip this one. Rated PG-13, with some very scary scenes involving the deaths of children.


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