The Woman In Black


Harry Potter and the half-dead bint.

Is there life, you know, after? Two British institutions – the revamped Hammer studios and Hogwarts alumnus Daniel Radcliffe – certainly hope so. Forging ahead with an adaptation of Susan Hill’s 1983 ghost story, best known as a West End fixture since 1989, it certainly seems to be the case.

Under the guidance of Eden Lake writer/ director James Watkins, Radcliffe, who’s always had the look of a provincial office junior, plays Victorian solicitor Arthur Kipps. leaving his young son behind in London, Kipps heads north to the village of Crythin gifford to sort the affairs of the late Mrs Drablow, the sole resident of Eel Marsh House – or so it would seem.

In the village, he encounters Royston Vasey levels of hostility (“if it’s a holiday you’re after, you’re better off going inland… there’s a lot of sea mists!” warns the innkeeper). on Drablow’s deserted island, cut off from the mainland by the treacherous (and misleadingly named) Nine Lives Causeway, he encounters something far worse.

From London’s smoggy backstreets to the low-tide scum of the causeway, Watkins conjures an atmosphere of tangible unease, sometimes a little too tangible – chez Drablow may be one of the most haunted houses committed to celluloid.

Stranded there over night, Kipps encounters a veritable tick list of supernatural signifiers, from wind-up toys that start by themselves to pallid faces at the window. Sometimes we glimpse the eponymous spectre even when he doesn’t, alerting us to the fact that this is an unrepentant fright flick rather than the character study suggested by Kipps’ tragic, if somewhat perfunctory, backstory.

In places, it’s extremely effective – the woman haunts the island with the tenacity of J-horror’s more belligerent spooks, and she’s genuinely scary. Radcliffe, meanwhile, is terrific, exhibiting the greasy pallor of a haunted man.

There’s some strong support from concerned local Ciarán Hinds (Dumbledore’s brother in Deathly Hallows Part 2) and a great sequence that sees Kipps submerge himself in the black mud of the causeway. Gillyweed would definitely be an advantage.

The ending may be somewhat cheesy, but, for the most part, Watkins and scriptwriter Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class) render familiar material enjoyably, efficiently eerie. As for that after life, both star and studio can rest easy – even if no one else can.


A heritage horror so classical it almost veers towards camp, this unashamedly old-fashioned ghost story benefits from Radcliffe’s committed performance and Watkins’ willingness to do anything for a scare.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • writerdave87

      Jan 25th 2012, 17:58

      So why only 3 stars? Sounds great!

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    • Heisenberg

      Jan 26th 2012, 21:26

      @dave, was just thinkin the same before i saw your comment, this really does sound like it could be a winner.

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    • Mattsimus

      Jan 26th 2012, 23:19

      This basically reads like a 4* review and im pleasantly surprised that Radcliffe is getting some positive feedback "Terrific" not often said by thee ol after Harry after all!

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    • Sully27

      Feb 14th 2012, 15:12

      Has anyone seen The Woman in Black play? I definitely preferred it.

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    • FBTRoberts

      Feb 16th 2012, 17:33


      For anyone that loves Harry Potter and even if you don't but can't take Radcliffe seriously after being Harry Potter you need to see this, I watched it last night and spent the first 25 minutes expecting him to wake up on the Hogwarts Express and the film just being a nightmare on the way to Hogwarts but as the film got going he has completely dropped the Potter persona and I can actually now take him serious as an Actor. This was his stepping stone away from potter and i think he has done it. On the film it's self, I don't like scary films. they bore me but this actually got my heart pumping, really enjoyed it. The Ending was good and different from the normal scary films, could have been left open for a Squeal if they hadn't carried it on. Anyone that has seen it will know what im talking about. I really can't make my mind up about the very ending and if i liked it or not, still need time to reflect and maybe watch it again. All in All for making Radcliffe an Actor and not just Harry Potter and for a scary film to actually get my heart pumping i'd give the film 4 and a half out of 5.

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    • FBRSmith63

      Feb 18th 2012, 11:23

      Saw this film last night and thought it was brilliant, i noticed it had received mixed reviews universally with some criticising its lack of scares? For me and everyone else in the cinema it seemed to hit the jump note perfectly with men and woman of all ages jumping with fright at times. I would as a UK parent think twice however before taking any children under the age of 15 (which was its original rating before being lowered to a 12) as quite a few children needed to be removed from the cinema at the time we watched this film due to its freaky content and the children becoming very distressed and alarmed. That aside I thought this movie demonstrated all the aspects and characteristics of a true old style ghost story by combing all the traditional psychological buildup of the passing of a shadow or a reflection within a mirror with the sudden jolt of an appearance by the lady herself. Combine that with a terrified local community and an underlying more terrifying truth and you have all the ingredients of a true horror classic! I also highly commend Daniel Radcliffe for his brilliant transition into what I imagine would have been quite an alien role for him.

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    • Paddington640

      Mar 1st 2012, 19:54

      Saw this film last night. Fantastic story, however Radcliffe was still Harry Potter to me with only one facial expression throughout. Back directing, bad production. Supposed to be set in the North East of England and all the actors had west country accents????? So the Academy Award goes to..........THE DOG who could actually act. Cannot believe these so called actors actually got paid for this horrendous so called performance. Bored ridged as it took about 45 minutes of boredom to actually get into the film. Very slow which is a shame as a really good story, however what can we expect from Johnathon Ross's wife??? Terrible and a total wast of £9.50

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    • Paddington640

      Mar 1st 2012, 19:57


      Forgot to leave the star rating!

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    • FBASensusveri

      Mar 18th 2012, 7:13


      Travel from a woman in black to a woman in white. The film by James Watkins claims the horror genre, but I personally thought that a horror movie up to put it mildly, this picture is not reached. It is very formulaic movie turned out. And all the scary moments, and "unexpected" shadow, and "boom! Boom!" Yes, and the denouement was predictable from the first 15 minutes. The director has turned out just fine, nice, terrible story (which in many children's camps were told), not more. Well, not all of sneaks inside, not filled with horror. The point not that-a little or a lot of blood or a zombie, the point is 1) all the tricks of the operator, painter, stage tricks - are not new; 2) the plot does not catch neither an unexpected denouement, neither deep characters. Where is showing reflection of the protagonist, where his a struggle, doubt, where the disclosure of the characters? This is does not. The director focused on the picture to the "horror". It's very simple. Sparingly. Although certainly a qualitative picture came out, England, late 19th century, atmospheric and beautiful, gothic, house, interiors, landscapes, costumes and props. But! where are the heroes? not in the foreground. To be honest, not something to fear, well from what you can not sleep here at night ..!? A truly horrible, chilling, scary (if you want) films, those that act on the feelings, under pressure, so to speak, on the psyche. Here, the so-slight horror. For presentation and disclosure of talent Radcliffe seems to me that there was not enough scope (spaciousness). Role of the outrageously simple, no special reflection, a feelings of monotypic. Not that role, which can reveal all of his talents and release from Potter. Although he certainly played perfectly. But to me why it seems that the title of the genre "horror film," Watkins skillfully hid the genre "drama". I would like to talk about this "second bottom", a drama with elements of horror. Black and white, as you know, these are two sides of one coin. And Arthur was persecuted not so much a woman in Black as a .. yes yes .. his beloved, his Woman in White, which became the fatal «woman in the black» for him. This is her he can not let go of all 4 years, her sees in a vision, her does not drive away, with her can not break the emotional connection. It was she, a woman in white, has turned his life into hell. At the beginning of a young father, not paying much attention to his son, silently immersed in a world dreams, visions, dreaming fruitless to meet again with his deceased wife. During all picture, he's chasing ghosts, lives in the past, not wanting to let him go. And lo and behold, he finds himself in a village where people in fact live exactly the same. Is the director showed us the life in this town, happy children, laughter, innovation, development of .., no. Is the director showed us the life in this town, happy children, laughter, innovation, development of .., no. Before us, slough of despond, dejection, greyness monotonous days , oppressive atmosphere of despondency, distrust, and dullness, monotony. In this village live with pleasure haunted, live in the past. There is no air and sun. Only black & white landscapes. Parents who are locked(!!!) own daughter, ostensibly to protect her... No, not in black woman killed her. Killed her own parents, who live illusive dreams and prejudices, and maybe she just broke down and burned himself, lit a fire in the midst of this greyness, as well as burnt itself from within after drinking lye, the second girl. Children can not stand the peace with greyness and dejection, sadness of the world. Arthur goes to the manor, again through the black-and-white field. Black and white field, black and white women, and a mixture of these opposites and gives the dull gray color, the color of the swamp, which sucks all the inhabitants of the village and Arthur more and more… Arthur got out of the swamp only conditionally, but he did not want to drive away the past, and him absorbed a swamp, slowly sucking in all 4 years. It is unfortunate that the young son he pulled behind him, of little interest to his son, 4 years, he lived dreams (in psychiatry, said a person get stuck). Arthur had wanted such a finale. Definitely. His woman in black become his a woman in white, here is the most awful and terrible, his wife. This film is about a large box with grief and sadness, which is better to leave on time, while the swamp you will not swallowed, it is impossible to live the world of dreams, the reality is needed. And this Watkins' drama with elements of horror movie, I would advise everyone to watch, though, to understand and comprehend is what- « No need to look way back in time, no need to chase ghosts. Enough to make phone calls that have not answers. Stop fighting the fact that you can not afford defeat. Let go of it. It's time we all stop and start walking in the opposite direction.»-Japanese writer-philosopher, Kobo Abe. And if that is what Watkins wanted to tell us, bravo!

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    • RachaelNelson

      May 28th 2012, 21:48


      I was able to watch The Women In Black at It's in good quality and free. Check it out!

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