Hammer Films‘ latest production, an adaptation of Susan Hill‘s The Woman in Black, is a flawed yet enjoyable spectral romp that could have been a gem if it wasn’t marred by cheap, sensational gimmicks.
Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), whose wife died during childbirth, is dispatched to Eel Marsh House by his law firm in order to secure papers that would permit the sale of the said building. However the residents of the nearby village view his sojourn with disdain as they fear that his meddling might provoke the ghost of Jennet Humfrye (Liz White), a woman who cursed the village children after her son had been taken away from her.
Director James Watkins‘s Edwardian ghost story, despite hitting most of the right notes, fails to deliver on its promised goods. The film attempts to strike a balance between suggestive/atmospheric set pieces and ‘boo!’ moments (slow pans followed by a cut and a loud burst of music), ultimately veering towards the latter. A shame because there are moments when the film shines simply by employing a judicious use of camera, depth of field and a subtle sound score. Also, there are some baffling turns of events, most notably the ending, which leaves one wondering whether Arthur was in fact punished or rewarded for his pains.
Not bad but not good either.
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