Many a long running film franchise has hobbled the careers of its stars… particularly when that series made them household names in the first place. Certainly the big question since the credits rolled on the 8th and final Harry Potter film was whether its young leads would continue to find work post-Potter. Or would they forever just be bright-eyed Harry, Hermione and Ron – all the way into saggy, bloated middle age?
Well, Daniel Radcliffe’s first grown-up role is certainly a departure for the 22 year old English actor. Radcliffe may still be contending with the supernatural in The Woman in Black, but there are no masochistic house elves and eccentric wizards here. Radcliffe’s latest effort is a horror film, based on the gothic novel by Susan Hill, which has gone on to spawn a very long-running theatrical production, a TV movie and 2 BBC radio plays.
In The Woman in Black, Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer who has recently lost his wife during childbirth. Still grieving, Arthur leaves his son in the care of a nanny and heads off to a remote village to manage the estate of a dead recluse, who lived for years in a dilapidated manor house known as Eel Marsh. Arthur finds the town’s inhabitants both unhelpful, and sorrowful after a rash of child suicides. Even worse, there’s the matter of the manor house, cut off from the mainland by ocean tides… and haunted by a sinister spirit known simply as the Woman in Black.
Coming from freshly revived Hammer Film Productions – a studio and production company iconic with British horror – The Woman in Black is a good old fashioned (for better or worse) ghost story. Set in the early days of the Edwardian Era, the film is just PG-13, but makes up for its lack of gore and screaming half-naked teens with oodles of unnerving atmosphere. And frankly, the movie looks pretty damn creepy in its trailer.
The Lady in Black opened at No.2 at the American Box Office this weekend, dramatically exceeding expectations. Apparently it’s nothing groundbreaking, and hauls out all the expected tricks of “haunted house” cinema – from creepy kids to ghostly reflections and jump moments. However, it also looks great and at its core is a fine, tasteful tribute to its Hammer predecessors. Just, you know, avoid it if your horror tastes are of the extreme, guts-splattered kind. You are likely to be left unsatisfied.
At this stage, no South African release date has been set for The Woman in Black.
Last Updated: February 7, 2012