Film Review: The Woman in Black
Fun fact: I’ve never read a Harry Potter book or seen a Harry Potter movie.
I read the beginning of the first book when I was 10 and was so full of hatred for it (I started hating things young) that I took a vow against the series in all its incarnations.
What does this have to do with The Woman in Black? Apart from Daniel Radcliffe being in it?
Dammit, I didn’t think that anecdote through.
TL;DR No matter what Paranormal Activity’s box office takings suggest, jump scares do not equal a movie. Dumb characters, poorly motivated villain and a crap ending don’t help. D-Rad’s performance is earnest enough, though. 2 out of 5 stars.
D-Rad? Does that work. No, I’m not happy with it. Radders from now on.
So the plot follows Radders, a widower lawyer who accepts a job handling the estate of some old bitch who died in a swamp. He has a son who will be coming to visit a few days after his job is finished. The town he goes to is in the middle of fucking nowhere, and the swamp house is in the middle of the middle of fucking nowhere. It’s isolated, yo. So something something ghost-that-makes-children-commit-suicide. Radders takes it on himself to bring the vengeful spirit to peace and save the town. Because he’s the main character and that’s what main characters do, right?
So the big problem here really is the lack of scariness. Almost every single point of tension is just a jump scare. And they are almost exclusively of the “the ghost is just out of sight of the main character but the audience can see it this is scary” variety. With the occasional “ermagherd there’s a ghost in the window but when Radders gets there it’s gone” thrown in just to keep things fresh. The first couple are actually pretty effective (and despite her stupid character development, the titular Woman is totes creepy), but you see them coming very quickly after that. Bored.
Radders is the only really decent thing in it. He’s pretty good looking nowadays, and his delivery seems sincere. Shame his character is such a dickhead.
Why I hate this movie:
There is absolutely no reason for Radders to stick around in town. He only really resolves to fix the ghost when he is unable to prevent his son coming to town. The whole time prior to this he could have just fucking left town (and stopped his son from coming). All but a couple of the townsfolk are openly hostile towards him. It’s established that this assignment is his last chance to keep his job (and his debts are piling up), but I’m pretty sure his son’s life is a bit more important.
The townsfolk really have no excuse either. They are all aware that the Woman could pop in at anytime to massacre their kids. Just fucking leave town. Move out. Again, they probably can’t afford it, but I think your kids’ lives matter, too. Fuck.
In addition to the endless jump scares, the movie is also a massive horror cliché storm: mirror scares, ghosts in windows, creepy ghost kids, ghostly hand prints on windows, auto-animated children’s toys, rocking chair rocking by itself, unexplained footprints, zombie doorknocking, hostile locals, isolated castle/mansion, empty castle/mansion, haunted castle/mansion, main character staying in the castle/mansion by themselves overnight for no good reason, door opening by themselves. I think you get the point.
I’m not sure Radders is old enough to be believable as a widower parent yet.
He’s also incredibly genre blind. He stays in the house for no good reason at all. And goes back. Dumbass.
The Woman is too chaotic to really give a shit about. She kills children because her own child was taken away from her. This doesn’t explain why she terrorises Radders, who is an adult. Worse, when he finally brings her dead child’s body to rest, bitch is all like “lolz, DNC. Still gonna kill anyway.” Ungrateful. Rude.
The topping on this is the pathetic ending. Radders is so goddamn proud of himself that he doesn’t notice when his son (compelled by the Woman) jumps onto the train tracks. Dude, you’re in a town where a devil bitch makes children commit suicide. I know you think it’s mission accomplished, but fuck. And you should watch your child on a railway platform anyway. That’s just irresponsible.
Also, Radders and his son get hit by the train and die. They reunite with the dead wife/mother, which is a happy ending (I guess?), but it’s clear that the Woman isn’t gonna stop. So we just wasted our time watching Harry Potter accomplish nothing.
Reasons to watch:
If you’re prone to jump scares, you’ll find plenty to enjoy.
The atmosphere is pretty effective. The house is wall-to-wall creepy. The town and swamplands are foggy as fuck. The scene where the rising waters cover the connecting road between the house and the town was great.
The kids’ deaths are both gross and hilarious. There’s just something so absurd about 3 little girls simultaneously jumping out of 3 windows. The girl who sets herself on fire is also pretty ridiculous. Call me a child-hater, but I had to laugh.
The mother of the 3 girls has a bird that has learned to mimic her crying. This is also surprisingly funny and dark. Nice.
One of the women in the town has tried to fill the void of her dead son with 2 absolutely adorable chihuahuas. They are cute as fuck.
Oh, and she is intermittently possessed by her dead son. This is also a massive surprise funny. I think the writers might have been in on this.
There’s really not a lot to love, but I still think it deserves more than 1 star. Radders might actually have a future post-Harry Potter, but he’s gotta find something better than this shit. 2 out of 5 stars.