on 14 March 2014
Hammer studios release their best movie in decades, with this stark, atmospheric ghost story.
Radcliffe is a lawyer who has a tragic past. His wife died during childbirth and now he is struggling to make ends meet and is on a final warning at his law firm.
He goes to a remote village, where it seems that everyone has seen The Wicker Man and treat Kipps as an outsider. He is there on business to sort out someones estate, but the locals are desperate to get rid of him, apart from one, the local rich man, Sam.
Kipps arrives at the estate to catch up on paperwork, and when he looks out of the window, he sees a mysterious figure, the titular character.
From then on, every time he sees 'TWIB', a child from the village dies in a violent way.
Slowly uncovering the truth via letters from dead relatives, Kipps goes through psychological toil trying to keep sane and keep harm away from his child...
What Potter did next is something very mature and hugely scary in parts. It's a traditional ghost story, and the director knows what to do with the source material and the beautiful house which, without trying to sound clichéd, becomes a character in itself.
What makes the film more eerie is that we never really see 'TWIB' close up until the last five or ten minutes. The rest of the film, we are treated to subliminal glimpses and effective use of 'old house sounds'.
Radcliffe is great, and soon gets rid of the Potter similarities, although he may be a little too young to plat the character.
the film gives you an unsettling feel of dread from the offset and depending on which way you look at it, the end is either very glum or very uplifting, Kudos to Jane Goldman for such a good script too.
Well worth seeing.
And the dog makes it at the end if you were wondering...
on 21 August 2012
Don't waste your time with the UK DVD and Blu Ray release. It has been reedited, cut, images darkened and sound altered, all to change it from being a 16 rating down to a 12.
Seen as how this excellent British film is a big comeback for the legendary Hammer Horror film company, it seems ironic that the UK has been landed with a heavily censored version of the film.
Instead, go to Amazon.de and buy Die Frau in Schwarz, the fully uncut German release, seen as the director intended it. Switching to the 2nd audio track gives you English (German being 1st). Picture and Sound quality are excellent, and with Germany being in the same region code area, both the DVD and Blu Ray will play on UK machines.
on 15 July 2013
.....with a loved one and you want to sit behind a cushion and snuggle into each other. This film ONLY works in surround sound and the lights off!!! Its NOT a gore feast, or a horror, slasher. Its a simple old style jumper, when something moves unexpectedly and the music shrieks! Most folk wont appreciate this, everyone seems desensitised by the gore,slasher, horrors they are going about. THATS not horror, thats my local abattoir!!!
Oh and Daniel Radcliff can show just how well he is at moving away from his harry potter character!
on 5 April 2013
The original Woman is Black (1989) is a very chilling, gripping tale. And about three decades later, a remake was made. At first, I though the film would be over the top, and much worse that the original. But I could not have been more wrong. This remake was really good, actually topping the original, I did not expect that. The film is stronger than the original in many ways, and it has plenty of jumpy scenes, a really good plot, and it did not turn what is supposed to be a spine chilling ghost story into a gorey horror film.
The movie tells the tale of Arthur Kipps, a lawyer who has to leave his young son and travel to a remote village to attend the affairs of the recently deceased owner of Eel Marsh House. Working alone in the old mansion, Kipps begins to discover the very dark and tortured secrets and his fears escalate when he discovers that local children have been disappearing under mysterious circumstances. When those closest to him become threatened by the vengeful woman in black, Kipps must find a way the break the cycle of terror. This movie is very terrifying and has lots of chilling scenes that make us 'jump out of seats'. It also has a brilliant storyline and it builds up and builds up until we get to the very unpredictable outcome. It is also good to see Daniel Radcliffe as the main character, as he became one of my favourite actors after seeing him as the main character in Harry Potter, which came to an end in 2011, so it was good to see him on the big screen once again. The acting form every cast member in this film was really good, even actors which only had about about one scene in the film, and there acting made the film even more chilling and spooky.
Although both of the ''Woman in Black'' films, the original and this one, are both great films, this one is definitely better. The first one featured some very good acting, but in this one, it was clearly much better, for example, the scene when Mrs Daily was telling Arthur what happens when Janet, there is a lot more emotion put into the scene than there was in the original. The scenes of Janet were a lot more creepy and better done in this film. The music in this film was also a lot more tense than it was in the first, making the movie even more chilling. The main part of the film, where Arthur is in Eel Marsh House, at night, alone, it is a lot, lot darker, and features multiple scares that are not over the top or scenes that just make us groan. Some think that this is better than the original, some think it did not quite live up to the heights of it, and I am one of the ones who think it is better; they are both great films, but this one was on the whole a lot bigger and bolder. And I was not expecting it to be as good, so it surprised me.
The film is somewhat let down by a few things though. The biggest fault about this movie, is that it has a few rushed events. It would have been better if the movie was 30-45 minutes longer. I expected the ending of the film to have been a bit more slowly paced, it was too rushed and over to quick for me. The film spent a lot of time building up really well with a good pace, and had a climax with several scenes which made me flinch and jump at times, but all the build up, all the scenes which had us on the edge of the sofa, and at times hiding behind the sofa, resulted in a rushed resolution and ending, which could have been done a lot better. I was also disappointing by the scene in this film which had Arthur and Sam attempting to retrieve the body of Janet's son from the marsh and reuniting him with her so she may be at piece. This, in my opinion, was a pathetic far fetched idea that let the film down for me. There could have been something so much better here.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. I actually think that it is a better film than the original Woman in Black, I think that is a great film to, but this was darker and overall better. This film has a very chilling ending, it is very spooky and times, and it is is overall a really good tale that is all wrapped up well, ending on a very chilling note.
on 9 May 2013
Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer sent to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased woman. It is his last chance to prove himself to his employers, after his wife died during childbirth, and he's been grieving ever since.
After arriving in Cryphin Gifford, he is advised not to go out to Eel Marsh House, which the woman owned. After insisting that is why he is there, someone takes him. The house, only being accessible at low tide, after that being cut off completely. and promptly leaves him there, alone.
Daniel Radcliffe is perfectly cast in this role, as Arthur Kipps, and plays it brilliantly. This version is truer to the book than the 1989 TV version, with Adrian Rawlins, which is now unavailable anywhere, and only second-hand copies exist, except for some pirates.
This film was a long time coming, as I have said, apart from the TV version this book had never been filmed for the cinema before.
If you like creepy ghost stories with lots of atmosphere, then you will certainly enjoy this film. If you're into reading, then the book is also worth buying.
Definition is pin sharp, and colours are natural.
This blu ray transfer is presented in it's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and has a 5.1 soundtrack.
I love gothic horror -- big cobwebbed houses, squawking ravens, rolling mists and mysterious sinister figures that are only glimpsed. "The Woman in Black" has all of those. In fact, this slow, haunting movie loads on the Edwardian ghost-story atmosphere so thick that it practically chokes you -- and while it tends to move slowly, it's beautifully creepy.
Young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) has a life in tatters -- his career is in jeopardy, and he's still in mourning over the loss of his wife four years ago. He's sent to sort through the personal effects of Alice Drablow, who left behind a decayed mansion set in the misty marshes -- and when visiting the house, he sees a veiled woman in black.
The locals are also desperate to get rid of him, even blaming him for the death of a child who drank lye. And soon Kipps begins to understand why, as he unravels the secrets of the Drablow family, and the madwoman who lost her child long ago. With the help of his new friend Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds), Kipps will set out to stop the Woman in Black before she claims what's dearest to him.
I haven't been too impressed with the output of the revitalized Hammer Films company. "The Woman in Black" is probably the best horror movie they've produced -- it feels like a modern version of their shadowy, gothic old movies. It's also not very scary, although director James Watkins tosses in a few jump scares (a raven, a faucet, etc).
Instead, the movie just makes you uneasy. We're constantly aware that SOMETHING is hovering over this town. But for most of the movie, we only see fleeting glimpses of the Woman and her power.
The biggest problem is that the movie moves rather slowly, especially in the first half. But for me, it's compensated for by Watkins inserting some truly unnerving scenes, like a hysterical Mrs. Daily carving into the table. And the gothic atmosphere is so heavy and dark that it practically drips from the screen -- vast mildewed houses, foggy marshes, half-forgotten letters and old photos, and a grey rainy light that seems to wash the colors from the world.
There's not a trace of Harry Potter in Daniel Radcliffe's performance here. His Arthur Kipps is a haunted, broken figure who seems strangely detached from the world around him, except when it comes to endangered children. The only problem is that Radcliffe looks a little young for the role -- whenever Arthur is with his little son, he looks more like the kid's big brother.
"The Woman in Black" is rather slow at times, but the gothic atmosphere and a strong performance from Radcliffe almost make up for that. Well, I'll gladly take it over rotten slasher remakes.
on 6 April 2012
I wasn't sure what to expect having read the brilliant book by Susan Hill, but was really glad that I went to see this film! Fantastic, dark and eerie house (Unlike previous film that was shot in mostly daylight - not even slightly scary, and was therefore not faithful to the book).
As I enjoyed Harry Potter, thought I'd keep visualising Daniel Radcliffe doing that Potter 'Look' and that I wouldn't be able to take him seriously in this role, but he was great, very impressed. He doesn't say that much, but his role as the suffering Arthur Kipps was spot on. There are extra scary bits in this film that aren't in the book plus a bit missing that I was a little surprised about, (whistling to dog) as it's a particularly eerie bit, but nevertheless, a film to watch and enjoy if you like creepy films without blood and guts,(and in my case, order on blu-ray and watch many times on a windy rainy night!). The best film I've seen in ages.
It's ironic that after explicit modern-day horror films made Hammer's period gothic horror output look outdated and hurried along the studio's decline in the 70s, the resurrected 21st century version of the company would break its run of modern-day box-office flops with a period gothic horror, albeit one that owes more to films like The Innocents and The Haunting than own traditional output (though there are unfriendly frightened villagers aplenty). But perhaps the success of The Woman in Black - the highest grossing British horror film in two decades - shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise after its many previous successful incarnations as novel, TV and radio adaptations and a play that threatens to run longer in the West End than The Mousetrap, all of them changing the novel's ending. The film is the loosest adaptation of them all, angering many of its fans, but taken on its own merits the film works surprisingly well even if Jane Goldman's script doesn't balance its need for a bigger ending (and one which owes more to Japanese horror than the source material) and to somehow find a way to lighten up the consequences of its grim resolution - no easy task in a tale about a vengeful ghost stealing children.
Yet for the most part it's a classic ghost story told in a classic style, favouring subtle half-glimpsed over the shoulder moments to obvious shock effects, which makes it a pity when the last quarter of the film throws in a couple of ghost train-style BOO! moments that feel like they've been added at the last minute by nervous producers (entirely possible since the film's release was substantially delayed for reshoots). The first hour is often pleasingly unnerving, with Eden Lake director James Watkins' restraint creating more than a few frissons and Daniel Radcliffe finally delivering a performance where he isn't trying too hard as the haunted hero. There's strong support from Ciaran Hinds, who on this evidence seems to be turning into a British Frank Langella, and Janet McTeer, an unusually good sense of the landscape for a British film as well as a good use of deep blacks in Tim Maurice-Jones' Scope photography (though some of the driving shots fail to convince thanks to the kind of good-but-not-quite-good-enough CGI that often looks more distracting than bad back projection) and an effectively understated score by Marco Beltrami. For an hour-and-a-half it manages to keep you hooked, but the overfamiliarity of the final act ensures it won't linger as long as it should have.
It's no secret that the UK release - both in cinemas and on Blu-ray and DVD - was cut by around 15 seconds and had some cosmetic changes to guarantee a 12A certificate to allow the Harry Potter fans in. Unfortunately for Blu-ray buyers, while Sony's US Blu-ray includes the uncut and unaltered version in an excellent 2.40:1 widescreen transfer, it's Region A-locked. By way of compensation, the UK Blu-ray release includes the few extras on the US one - audio commentary by Watkins and Jane Goldman and two brief making of featurettes - and adds plenty more: cast interviews, a longer featurette on the premiere, trailers for the film and galleries of stills, storyboards and production sketches.
on 9 August 2013
The movie hits on all the classic stereotypes of a ghost story. There is a haunted mansion in an isolated marsh thick with fog. There is a past of a haunted suicide and a recent will. The village has a secret. The house has ghostly images, squeaks, creaks, whispers, things that move on their own, and a raven that enters it.
Our main character has a wife who has died in child birth and for some undisclosed reason this is his "last chance" with his firm so he just can't walk away. In the beginning, Radcliffe wears his hair down over his forehead leading me to suspect he really does have a permanent mark in the shape of a lightning bolt.
There is a mystery that is supposed to draw you in, but having seen so many clichés you wonder if this film will offer you anything new.
As the poorly developed Arthur (Daniel Radcliffe) sorts through the papers in the house he uncovers letters which sheds some light unto the situation, and we get to see his bolt free forehead. Radcliffe was neither an asset nor a liability. His agent did him well, but I thought he mustered more fear and terror as that Potter guy in the late sequels than he did in this film. He seems to have trouble with convincing facial expressions.
The strength of the film is in how well it utilizes all those haunted mansion clichés, the lighting...or lack of it, and the detailing of the era. Arthur is played as a rather dull character. There are things that happen to him which would have made me leap out of skin and run out the house, yet he does very little. Also Arthur is quiet as he encounters the unknown, perhaps done to build up the scare factor, but I wonder how that would have worked with a character who talks to the ghost while searching about, maybe with a comical line or two taken from "Hold That Ghost" or someone like Joe Pesci swearing obscenities at it.
Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity. Safe for the kids to watch on a foggy night if you want to scare the bejesus out of them.
on 21 July 2013
I love scary films. Not gory films. Scary films. Gory films just bore me: Mad axeman chopping up annoying, over-sexed supermodel teens - I'm always on the side of the axeman! For me the scariest films are those which don't splatter ketchup all over the screen. And so, having read Susan Hill's fantastic novel - I can't be the only one who was fooled into thinking it was more a hundred and thirty, as opposed to a mere thirty, years old - and with memories of the 1989 TV version still keeping me wary at night, I decided to give this remake a go. And, I have to say, initially at least, boy did it do its job: Lovely and creepy; terrific direction from James Watkins - one early scene in particular will have you peering over the casts' shoulders for the remainder of the film; and a nice little twist to the ending, but for obvious reasons I won't go into that here. There were a few gripes: the cliched villagers and Daniel Radcliffe's miscasting being the main two: Now that Potter is over and done with, Radcliffe is becoming a very good actor, unfortunately he is just wrong for this role: firstly he's far too young, Kipps for me is a good ten years older, and secondly that immaturity is highlighted, sometimes hilariously, in every scene Radcliffe shares with the hulking presence of Ciaran Hinds, who must tower a good foot over him, for me distracting from the action and the dialogue. But, as I have said, the shocks were there, in abundance, and so I let it go. Unfortunately, on a second viewing, I found the film's fatal flaw - it's only scary the first time! Jump effects which had me gasping initially just didn't work anymore. And that's a let-down. A really effective chiller should deliver the goods over and over, I'm thinking of Alejandro Amenabar's sublime The Others here, for me the most effective and the most under-rated film of its genre. The Woman in Black is good for a first time thrill - believe me, it is! - but for a film with a little more staying power, try The Others or The Orphanage.