Monday, August 20, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: The Woman in Black

2012, James Watkins -- download

Daniel Radcliffe suffers from the unfortunate role of being the guy who was Harry Potter.  He will be in that role for a good amount of time, no matter how much he shows his buttocks on stage.  I think it will also be some time before we even see him older than he was in the primary movies, despite him being almost an adult by the time the series finished.  It is thus in this movie, I was glad he was given the chance to be out of the norm, playing a family man & lawyer trying desperately to care for a son while still suffering the grief of losing his wife.  These are the Edwardian times, around the beginning of the last century, when even a young man carried a lot of responsibility.  Arthur Kipps has been through a lot, caring for a dying wife, losing her and having to raise his son on his own. But does that dismiss him from the work he must do?  No; either he succeeds at this assignment or he loses his job. It's a straight forward one, at least, having to go to the estate and sort out the paperwork that was left after the owner died.

The movie looks absolutely wonderfully creepy.   The Eel Marsh House is situated on an island in the ... well, the eel marsh.  And when the tide slides in, the house is cut off from the mainland.  It is a grand old haunted house, full of creepy over-filled rooms, dusty hallways and a nasty weed filled yard.  The figure haunting the house, Arthur discovers is not only causing the deaths of children all over the village (thus forcing them to shun him, for they fear he will lose people too) but also is keeping him from completing his work.  He discovers her history while reading the papers he is sorting, obviously a pragmatic man used to difficult situations and rather in tune with the dead, considering how much he wishes he could contact the soul of his wife.  Arthur soon realizes that the only he can complete his task and make sure his own son is not taken by this vengeful spirit, is to soothe her.  The problem is that she is not so easily soothed.

I really enjoyed the way this movie played out, good sound, good visuals, creepy atmosphere great performances by Daniel Radcliffe and Ciaran Hinds.  But for me it failed in the ending.  It was trying for a twist, a bending of the traditional ghost story, but just ended up not ringing true.  This was told as if a tale from the memory of an aged man, but was not.  I won't ruin it for you, wikipedia can tell you that, but it just concluded unsatisfactorily for me.  Sometimes the cliche endings are done that way for a reason, a formula in story telling that pull things together well and if you are going to abandon that, you better have a ending more decidedly different than ... it's not what you expected !