Archive for July 14, 2012

Here is my review of “The women in black” which I saw on DVD (Released on 5th March 2012).  Please don’t read if you have not seen the film, spoiler alert.

In the Edwardian era, in a small British town, three little girls playing tea party suddenly walk in a trance-like state to the window where they jump to their deaths. In London Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a lawyer and the widowed father of four-year-old Joseph, is charged by his office to obtain the paperwork with which to sell a large manor – Eel Marsh House. Though he is hesitant to leave his son alone with a nanny, Arthur’s boss warns him that should he fail to complete his duty he will lose his job.

Arthur is treated coldly upon his arrival and is barely able to get a room for the night, but he meets a kind local man named Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds) and his wife Elisabeth (Janet McTeer) who allow him to stay at their home. Arthur visits his legal contact, Mr. Jerome, who hurries him off with a stack of papers, telling him to return to London. Instead, Arthur bribes the coachman to take him to Eel Marsh House, where he feels he will be able to more thoroughly complete his work. While there he is distracted by odd noises, footsteps and finally a brief appearance by a woman dressed in black. Arthur then hears a commotion in Eel Marsh, and runs out only to find his coachman waiting for him. As Arthur reports the incident to the police, three children come into the station; two boys carrying their little sister who had drunk some poison who collapses in Arthur’s arms and dies.

The next day Arthur decides to stay the night at Eel Marsh House to finish his work, and discovers letters from Alice Drablow, the homes recently deceased owner, and her mentally disturbed sister Jennet Humfrye. Jennet claims Alice stole her son Nathaniel away from her and demands to let her see him. In subsequent letters it is revealed the boy drowned in the marsh and that Jennet blamed Alice before killing herself. Toys begin making noise upstairs in Nathaniel’s room, where Arthur witnesses the spirits of the Woman in Black and a mud-covered Nathaniel. The next day, Arthur learns that the deaths are the work of Jennet Humfrye, the Woman in Black, who cursed the town after her child was taken from her. She then indicates that Joseph, who is being brought to the town by his nanny the next day, is a target for the Woman in Black. In an attempt to lift the curse, Arthur decides to reunite Nathaniel and Jennet by finding Nathaniel’s body in the marsh with Sam’s help. They place his body in the Eel Marsh House, where Jennet finds him and then leaves, as it is appears she is satisfied. They then locate Jennet’s remains and place her son in the grave with her before covering it back up.

But is the curse lifted? The next night, Joseph and Arthur are reunited and intend on immediately returning to London, but Joseph slips away while Arthur and Sam are busy talking. Arthur soon notices Joseph walking along the train tracks and it becomes apparent that the curse will never be lifted.  Arthur leaps onto the tracks and grabs Joseph out of the way of an oncoming train as Sam looks on. Once it passes, Joseph asks “Who’s that lady?” Arthur looks and smiles before responding “That’s your Mummy”. A glowing Stella Kipps takes the hands of her husband and the family disappear into the fog and darkness.

This was a classic Hammer horror story. The film has a gothic/gloomy feel. Although not much gore and action, in fact very little action, it is very atmospheric and still scary at times. But the frights don’t necessarily jump out at you, most of the time they are implied with dark shadows, strange sounds and screams and an eerie music.  Watched in daylight or in a packed cinema screen it’s scary; watched in the dark, alone (like me), in an empty house, it can be quiet terrifying.

The ending actually bought a tear to my eye and I was left both sad (that Joseph and Arthur had died) and happy (they are both reunited with their departed wife/mother).

Daniel Radcliffe was pretty good as the lead and successfully lifted his “Harry Potter” tag in my opinion.  I however have problem and that I think he is too young for this role. No Edwardian gentleman would get married at the age of 16 (as he would have had to, to be a widower with a four-year-old child by the age of 21). However, it’s worth suspending your disbelief and choosing to ignore this minor complaint, because Radcliffe’s performance is brilliant.

So well worth a watch in my opinion. What did you think?

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