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DVD: Woman in Black | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Woman in Black

DVD: Woman in Black

A spine-tingling adaptation of a much-loved modern gothic horror novel

Daniel Radcliffe plays the bereaved widower Arthur Kipps

Fresh from the final Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe plays a grieving widower with a four-year-old son in this truly spine-tingling adaptation of Susan Hill’s 1983 gothic horror novel. Produced by the newly resurrected Hammer Films, written by Jane Goldman and ably directly by James Watkins, the film dispenses with the framing narrative device familiar to the genre, in which the story is related some time after the event. Instead we plunge straight in with our encounter with Arthur Kipps, the young solicitor sent up from London to a bleak coastal town to sort out the affairs of the recently deceased Mrs Drablow.

Radcliffe’s rather buttoned-up stiffness suits both the film and the period well

Radcliffe is slightly underpowered in the role, and scenes which have you jumping out of your seat are met with little more than a look of mild surprise from our protagonist, though, in fact, Radcliffe’s rather buttoned-up stiffness suits both the film and the period well. Ciarán Hinds plays Mr Daily, the sceptical landowner who takes Kipps under his wing when the locals prove typically hostile, while Janet McTeer plays his wife, whose psychic abilities enable her to commune with the spirits of the dead children, including her son. If Radcliffe gives a reserved performance, McTeer more than makes up for it.

Woman in Black is visually rich and impressively atmospheric. Tension is maintained throughout, with wind-up dolls springing suddenly to life and the light glinting off the eyes of a toy monkey giving every impression of a malign supernatural force at play. It is to Watkins’ credit that none of this feels too hackneyed. Needless to say the eponymous woman in black (Liz White) is played with unforgettable menace, and the ambivalent ending adds a doubly poignant note.

Extras include interviews with the cast and with the director and screenwriter.

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The light glinting off the eyes of a toy monkey gives every impression of a malign supernatural force at play


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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