Sunday, February 5, 2012

Scary Potter!

The Woman in Black  (Hammer Film Productions, 2012)

Before the Camera:

Daniel Radcliffe  (The Tailor of Panama)
Ciarán Hinds  (Road to Perdition)
Janet McTeer (Songcatcher)
Shaun Dooley  (Eden Lake)
David Burke  (Mesmer)
Sophie Stuckey  (My Life in Ruins)
Misha Handley  (First movie!)
Roger Allam  (V for Vendetta)
Mary Stockley  (V for Vendetta)
Liz White  (TV's Life on Mars - UK)
as Jennet Humfrye

Behind the Camera:

Directed by James Watkins

Produced by Roy Lee, Simon Oakes, and 10 other assorted executive, associate, and co-producers

Written by Jane Goldman

Based on the novel by Susan Hill

Wow! All of these years of being a movie buff - and it takes until 2012 for me to see my first Hammer Film in the theater! That's right, baby! After their heyday in the 50's and 60's, petering out in the mid 70's; bouncing back on TV in the 80's - Hammer is back in movie theaters! Huzzahs all around for that;

And for their triumphant return to movie screens, what does the venerable company bring us? Is it a fast paced CG animation 3-D comedy about funny aliens who poot? Is it a Katherine Heigl romcom? How about a big effects laden gladiator picture?

No, this is Hammer, man! Of course it's a period ghost story set in England!

Damn right it is! Woohoo!

The story, based on the 1983 novel, opens in the early 1900's with a horrific event involving three little girls having a tea party with their dollies. After this day ends badly for the young trio, the story moves to young law clerk Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), who's not been doing well since being left to raise his young son after the passing of his wife. His employer gives him one last chance to hang on to his job: he is to travel to the tiny and remote village of Crythin Gifford to wrap up the estate of the late Alice Drabow, whose Eel Marsh House is soon to be sold since she has gone on to the Great Beyond. Saying goodbye to his young son Joseph and leaving him in the care of his nanny, Arthur packs up and takes off on the train.
    Arriving in the village, the low key but affable Arthur is quickly shown the door by nearly everyone he meets. As he presses on with his assignment despite this brusqueness-bordering-on-the-rude, Arthur notices the village has a strange feel about it - and the children who live there don't come out to play much - instead they just stare at him through closed windows. Out at the old Eel Marsh House, Arthur finds the joint about as appealing as its name; layered in cobwebs and dust, and full of heavy black shadows that beat up what little light comes in the place and send it packing. Arthur tries to get to work, but then the strange noises begin in other parts of the house. And who is the mysterious figure he sees at a distance in the house and on the grounds?
    The mystery will deepen, and involves not only those three girls from the opening scene, but other children who came to bad ends in the village of Crythin Gifford. Eventually Arthur will begin to uncover a story of a particular lost child and the rage that loss has invoked...even from beyond the grave. Arthur's presence has brought back the Woman in Black, and now no one is safe...especially the children...including even his own young Joseph... due to come visit with his nanny in a few days...

Candlelight - the preferred method of illumination for all serious ghost hunters.
I usually avoid PG-13 horror movies, as they tend to annoy me with their tepidness. Examples like Darkness Falls, They, and Shark Night 3-D have all given PG-13 horror a bad name. But as it turns out, that is a fine rating for a period ghost story that goes more for shocks than blood or gore - though there is blood. Oh yes there is. This is a very entertaining flick, with lots of well mounted jump scares, and a great feeling of dread throughout. It does harken back to the Hammer Films of yore - which just makes it all the better to me - though I'd have loved a quick cameo from Christopher Lee to really tie it to the old days - still, that's a quibble. It's still much like a Kiss of the Vampire, or even Horror of Dracula - where an outsider travels to a remote village and finds it awash in evil. Impressively mounted, with gray and dreary skies adding to the ominous tone throughout, and well directed by Watkins (Eden Lake), this one works well, still finding some very intense moments even without the R rating. I love the setting of the Eel Marsh house - out on a spit of land as if it's in exile, and in forced isolation for several hours each day thanks to the tides washing out the road leading to it. The cast is solid - with Radcliffe a fine lead, just squeezing by as a young father probably a couple of years older than the actor who plays him. The rest of the cast are also up to the game, with a special shout out to Liz White - impossibly adorable as Annie on the UK Life on Mars series - and anything but here as the beleagured Jennet.      In the end, if you like movies like The Sixth Sense, that weave some suprises and shocks in while telling a real story - then you'll probably have a good time with this. If you can only find your horror kicks with the extreme side of the genre - like A Serbian Story or Human Centipede 2 - this one is probably not for you. But everyone else - I think this is a safe bet, so check it out!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

I thought I might have heard it during the fire scene - but more research is needed.

Eye Candy ?

Nobody in the movie qualifies for the list as they appear in the movie - but I'm not missing a chance to bestow Eye Candy status on Liz White!

Welcome to the list, Liz White!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says: "The Woman in Black shows J.K. Rowling
at her darkest yet, which I quite like, though I did miss Ron
and Hermione. But go see it!"

Well, even Mr. Gold Head can get a little confused on the details. While I try to explain it to him, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. I can't wait to see this. I was so excited about Hammer coming back to big screen films. I'll have my own review as well.

    We've been lacking a really good haunted house story of late. At least one without all the CGI f/x like the remake of House on Haunted Hill.

  2. Melissa - I hope you enjoy it! I thought it was a fine film. Can't wait to see your take posted! Cheers!

  3. It's interesting to finally see Radcliffe in a NON-Potter-film, the director's debut Eden Lake was amazing and the TWIB-teasers/trailers all looked great.
    I'm really excited for this!

  4. Great review. I'd been wanting to see this. I like the Potter movies and it's great to see Radcliffe coming into his own as an adult screen actor. And yes, I LOVED the Sixth Sense!

  5. Maynard - yeah, that's true - it's time to see what else he can do, and this is a good start! I'm really itching to see if it makes it for you when you see it!

    Luana - thank you so much! I'm with you down the line - like the HP movies; like Radcliffe; LOVE The Sixth Sense! Cheers!

  6. I had dreaded seeing Radcliffe play Arthur as I was worried that I couldn't remove him from Harry Potter but he was fine. I do agreed with you that he was just a bit too young.

    You have reminded me that I have a copy of They gathering dust somewhere :-0


    1. I would imagine you might have some trepidation since you read the book and saw the play - but the young man did all right in the end, didn't he? It's funny - you're digging up your copy of They - I just got one foisted on me as the fourth feature on a Blu-Ray multi film disc with the three Wes Craven Dracula movies on it!

  7. Scary Potter? How cool does that sound?! And very amusing too. Glad you and Buddha enjoyed this one - although it was a bit straightforward, it certainly gave me the creeps.
    The blog timeloop you were talking about in your comment reminded me of Insidious, and so did The Woman in Black... but in a Dead Silence-ish sort of way. And, if that's not a messy sentence I don't know what would be. LOL.

    1. Thanks very much! That one just kind of leaped out at me. Yeah, good movie for sure.

      That is a hell of a sentence there! If you wanted to comment a link back to your fine review - please do - in any case thanks for stopping by!