Director: James Watkins
Writers: Susan Hill (novel), Jane Goldman (screenplay)
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciarán Hinds
Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is a young London solicitor still mourning the loss of his wife. Despite this he is forced by his employer to travel to the remote Cryphin Gifford (in order to keep his job) and leave his son behind with a nanny in order to finalise paperwork on a property sale. The property in question is the isolated and deserted Eel Marsh House, the former home of one Mrs. Drablow.
On the long train journey, Kipps befriends Sam Daily (Hinds) a resident of the village and he offers Kipps a lift to the local inn and guesthouse. Once there, as is usually the case with remote out in the middle of nowhere villages, he is met with a decidedly frosty reception and told in no uncertain terms that there are no vacancies. The landlords wife then offers up the attic which he gratefully accepts. The next morning upon meeting with a local solicitor, Kipps is told to return to London. Something is definitely amiss around here.
We soon come to find out though that the house is haunted and that whenever someone spots the mysterious ‘woman in black’ a child in the village dies. Suffice to say you know what will be coming next. Now as ghost stories go, this is certainly above the norm but in itself there is nothing groundbreaking or new. What it does do though it does rather well. The suspense is good and the whole atmosphere is rather bleak and grim. This is also not a colourful film, instead oozing with dark shades and shadows. This does suit the mood and style of the film though.
There are a couple of twists here and there and the story overall is reasonably well written as a screenplay, though the reveal isn’t really that surprising. The ending is somewhat open to interpretation and I like how this finished. The directing is adequate and the use of CGI appears to have been kept down to a minimum given the genre. The set designs and costumes are very impressive as is the actual location and everything looks as if it does actually belong in the film. I suppose the only real slight negative might be in Radcliffe himself.
I certainly commend him on his move to help friends and to concentrate more on indie projects and unusual films in an attempt to move away from Harry Potter. While I personally felt he was a little weak here (compared to his brilliant performance in Horns), his meek and mild manner did suit the character. Overall this is a reasonable film, but do not expect to be blown away. Slightly above average fair that probably would have been a big miss without Radcliffe’s name attached to it.
The Sage’s Rating: 6/10