Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Woman In Black (2012)

PG-13, 1 hr. 34 min.  Directed By:  James Watkins.  Release Date: Feb 3, 2012.

I’ve been looking forward to this movie for about six months, when I first started seeing the trailers in the theater.  I’ve been curious about whether Daniel Radcliffe’s career would survive Harry Potter, or whether  life would do to Mr. Radcliffe what it did to Dana Plato.  Let’s face it, most child stars don’t end up well, and Radcliffe has already admitted that he struggled with an alcohol dependency somewhere in the middle of the Potter franchise. 

I was a little worried about this first major foray outside of Hogwarts.  Because, you know, Victorian ghost story horror pictures are always winners.  Right?  Riiight.  Outside of The Others, I couldn’t place a movie in the genre with this spin on it that I liked even a little.  I love the concept of ghost stories, but somehow they never seem to pan out.  

And The Woman In Black wasn't any different.  In my mind, these spooky British tales have the same major problem as British mysteries:  they tend to start so slowly that I lose all concern for what's going on by the time the actual spooky stuff happens.  It takes Woman a looong time to get rolling, but when it does, the scares aren't, well, scary.  This is a movie that's rich in moody shadows, dark paneling, and a decent back story.  I actually think that making this story take place around one of those local "boggart" tales is kind of inspired, although it isn't anything we haven't seen before.  Even The Lady in White, which I thought of on more than one occasion while watching this, is based on a localized urban legend.  What this movie lacks, is a score that sets you on edge throughout.  There are scenes that are rich in foreboding, but they'd have been better if the music had helped them set up the unease that should have come.  Hitchcock should have had part in this.  That was a man who knew how to make some mood music.

The cast probably wasn't doing their best work as well.  I'm hopeful that Radcliffe will have future work, but barring that, I'm hoping he at least has the good grace to fade quietly in the background, avoiding the ever-presence of Kristen Stewart, whose promises to retire after the Twilight debacle seem like baldfaced lies now that Snow White & The Huntsman is pending.

Anyway, if you can take a pass, I would.