As good as it is to see Hammer back in town, so far their movie choices haven't exactly been mind-blowing. The Woman In Black, if the play was anything to go by, seemed like a promising vehicle though. With its moody, dated look, an effective ghost story at its heart and more than just some woman wearing a silly mask (see the play) to scare the bejeesus out of us.
Daniel Radcliffe is our protagonist and heads to the rather unpleasant, reportedly haunted, house in the middle of nowhere. There's also a small town nearby with a bunch of dodgy inhabitants all hiding some sort of big secret which might have something to do with several kids randomly committing suicide around the village. Yes it's pretty standard and very predictable but it's also very Hammer so there was a lot of schlock potential there! These guys practically invented this nonsense, surely this should be a walk in the park for them.
Well, yes and no.
There is a sense throughout The Woman In Black that the filmmakers were very comfortable with that type of film but maybe even too comfortable because the film doesn't come off as effortless in a good way, if you get my drift. It's very by-numbers and besides a constant, genuinely unsettling feeling of isolation, there really isn't anything new or unique here. It's also a very repetitive film with our main character spending the entirety of the movie driving back and forth between the mansion and the village. It gets to a point where him going back to the house is frankly a bit stupid. In The Others, Nicole Kidman staying there despite the spooky goings-on made perfect sense, here it's like he wants to be involved in the scary-ass mayhem and witness it first hand.
Daniel Radcliffe does ok performance-wise, this won't be one of his most memorable ones and I have yet to be convinced that the guy can hold a movie together (he's a rubbish Harry Potter, ok? Leave me alone) but he's fine in this one. The supporting cast is really good and make up a terrific paranoid little town. They do get goofy once in a while but that just makes the film fun, gives it the campy edge it so sorely needed so I can't complain. It's actually a shame the film is so restrained, despite a couple of decent scares it's all very slow, gloomy and sadly a bit dull. The ending is also pretty unsatisfying (they should have watched Drag Me To Hell ffs) and ends the film snoozily with a "twist" you probably saw coming after the opening scene.
On the whole, there are worse films out there, definitely: The Woman In Black isn't bad it's just completely forgettable. There's nothing about it to really grab you with the exception of a couple of jumps here and there. Sleepy Hollow, this is most certainly not...