HARRY Potter has come to an end. As the young actors involved begin their post Potter careers, actor Daniel Radcliffe who played the film’s central character, attempts to free himself from the spectacled shadow the franchise has left upon him. His first attempt is the Hammer Studio’s haunted house chiller, The Women in Black, Certificate 12A.
Based on the chilling novel by Susan Hill, with an adapted screenplay by Jane Goldman. The film is directed by British director, James Watkins, it is similar in tone and style to last years, The Awakening and 2001’s, The Others which starred Nicole Kidman.
Radcliffe stars as Arthur Kipps, a single father attempting to raise his young son, still grieving from the loss of his wife. The young solicitor is assigned the estate of Alice Drablow and dispatched to the rural town to ensure Mrs Drablow’s paperwork is in order.
Arthur is not welcomed by the community. His only ally comes in the shape of wealthy landowner, Sam Daily, played by Belfast’s Ciaran Hinds. As Kipps meticulously goes through the paperwork of Eel Manor, he is haunted by the apparent apparition of a woman in black. The ghostly spectres appearance is said to foreshadow the death of a child within the village.
Director James Watkins has a strong horror pedigree and despite the 12A certificate he manages to get the scares throughout. Parents should be warned the film is not suitable for young children. At times the film has an almost claustrophobic level of tension as Radcliffe investigates the darkened rooms throughout the house. Credit must be bestowed on the director for not resorting to the blood and gore effects that have overran the horror genre of late.
Radcliffe is excellent throughout the film. The viewer can really feel the sense of fear and trepidation on his face as he explores the gloomy house. However at only 23, the actor feels a little too young for the role. Radcliffe may struggle to ever free himself from the shadow of Harry Potter but there is evidence throughout the feature of his acting talent.
Cinematographer, Tim Maurice-Jones must also receive credit for his work on the feature. He has done a fantastic job on the film’s visuals, they effectively compliment the film’s bleak and darkened tone.
The Women in Black is a great little British chiller, it’s fantastic to see Hammer studios returning to a genre, that it had become so closely associated with. Hardened horror fans might find the film a little tame but others may sleep with the light on for several nights after viewing.