It’s very appropriate Hammer is producing ‘The Woman in Black’. Famed for their creepy films from the 1950’s – 70’s the iconic British ‘House of Horror’ excelled in high quality scares. Their latest harks back to that successful era with misty moors and many spectral happenings. It works in conjuring an atmosphere of dread and is a fine adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel.
Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a young solicitor working in Edwardian England. Recently widowed and raising a young son he is asked to handle a deceased estate and is sent to Eel Marsh House in a small village. Little does he know of the terror awaiting as he hears tales of a mysterious woman in black. Wrecking a curse upon all those who see her, her presence changes Arthur’s life forever as he battles against her evil supernatural trickery.
‘The Woman in Black’ is very much an ‘old dark house’ spook-fest. Unlike most recent horrors it doesn’t totally rely on CGI in creating scares with moody tension paramount. What is unseen is usually far scarier which the screenplay deftly realises. It also keeps events simple enabling to be drawn into the story with ease. Mixing the superstitious natures of the villagers to Kipp’s fragile emotional state the tale effectively interweaves these into its narrative.
The desolate English country-side and cinematography are the films true stars. Capturing its wide expanses, it highlights the isolation everyone feels. Radcliffe equips himself admirably in his first post-Harry Potter leading role and as the story relies heavily on his talents he is more than rises to the challenge. There are some surprises amongst the expected creaky floors and sudden shocks as the film-makers know audiences love being scared.
Hopefully ‘The Woman in Black’ signals a resurgence in Hammer studios as its absence has been far too long. A good example of how to project vast atmospherics with minimal outlay, this is a fine addition to its spooky cinematic catalogue.
Rating out of 10: 7