Daniel Radcliffe stars as Arthur Kipps, a widower, father and lawyer in the 19th century who is sent to settle the legal affairs of a recently deceased woman, Alice Drablow (Alisa Khazanova). He leaves his son (Misha Handley) in the hands of his nanny as he travels by train to a small village several hours away. Here, the local residents act strange and unwelcoming to his presence as they try to persuade him to leave. After finding no room is left for him at the local inn, he is invited by Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds) to stay with him and his wife (Janet McTeer).
Kipps makes several visits to Alice Drablow’s estate which is located on a small island and is accessible only during low tide. During these visits, he begins to experience strange happenings as if there are other people in and around the house. The most striking of which is the sight of a woman in a black dress and veil (Liz White).
The film is based on a novel of the same name by Susan Hill and directed by James Watkins, whose only prior directed film was Eden Lake (2008), though he has been involved in writing other horror movies. While the setup to the main plot is well done, the scaring tactics used are very traditional. You know when to expect something is going to happen and in a lot of cases, what it is going to be. Demonstrating that Watkins’ is still new to the game. So much emphasis is placed on executing these points that the focus seems to be take away from the plot itself.
Part way through the film, there’s a sense that it might go from a classic-styled horror movie to something slightly more gory. The thought seems to rise, literally, under the sheets, but nothing really comes of this. These several incidents may be tantalizing for someone that might want more but for those who like a more realistic horror (despite the supernatural and spiritual occurrences), the line has been crossed. Is it serious or is there a sense of humour behind it now?
While The Woman In Black is a satisfying offering and a genuinely decent film for those who enjoy traditional horror films, don’t expect intense storyline or to be frightened out of your wits. It’s not mind-blowing in any sense but it’s not bad either. And while I was going to write this without making a single reference to the elephant in the room, it should be noted that it didn’t take too long into this film to be able to visualize Daniel Radcliffe as a character other than Harry Potter. For his first movie role after the 8-film HP franchise, it is commendable work and enough to anticipate Daniel’s next role.