The Woman In Black - don't look behind you Arthur!
Just to set the scene: I've been waiting with bated breath for this movie to come out since I first heard Hammer were making their own adaptation of The Woman In Black. I have read the book, seen the stage play and I own the TV adaptation on DVD - this is one of my favourite all time ghost stories, so the film did not have much to live up to! I say now, I was NOT disappointed.
This is a creepy, suspenseful, truly scary film. The cinematography captures the atmosphere of the book perfectly, but the adaptations made for the big screen make the film much, much more immediate than the book. I was hiding behind my hands, peaking at the screen for a good 50% of the time and that was down to the fabulous pacing and brilliant effects. They weren't overdone, no massive, obvious CGI, instead horror artistry at its best. I usually find myself in movies catching any computer graphics, noticing the tricks, but not in this movie. I actually have no idea how much was computer enhanced and how much was just camera angle, but whatever it was, those angles and blended tricks were brilliant (just look closely at the picture at the top of this blog entry and you'll see what I mean).
The director has to be praised for the way this film is put together. From the very first moment that Arthur steps in Eel March House, this film had me looking over Arthur's shoulder in every shot. Each time there was a gloomy corner, I was looking into it, wondering, is she there? And sometimes, eek, she was! I am sure when I watch the movie again, I will see more ghosts.
Dan Radcliffe does a magnificent job as Arthur Kipps. He is a broken man when we meet him and his eyes tell all. Considering that much of this film is just Dan, the camera and the ghosts in the background, Daniel had a lot to carry on his shoulders and he does it very, very well. You see his grief, you feel his fear, you stand with him when he resolves to beat that terror and yet, none of it was overdone. His is a subtle performance, believable and sits perfectly in the atmosphere of the whole film.
Hammer have made some significant changes to the plot, but then every adaptation I have seen has as well. The changes in this case were, I think, the best changes to I have seen to this story, As I mentioned above, the book is not as immediate as the film, it can afford more introspection, as writing often can. The changes to Arthur's circumstances, to the location, Crythin Gifford and to the story of Jennet, the woman in black, are understandable and work within the film, providing atmosphere and background that allow the watcher to sink very quickly into the plot and also add to the scares.
I would heartily recommend this film to anyone who is either a ghost story lover, or a Daniel Radcliffe fan, because you get plenty of both. But a word of warning, the creepiness lingers :). It was midnight when I got home from the cinema, a dark and windy night. Let's just say I didn't stay outside in the dark for long and I may have ducked under the covers when I turned off the bedside light!