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The Woman in Black (2012)

October 17, 2012

3/10 Village Idiots

How many times are we gonna hear this freaking story already?

The Woman in Black is about a young lawyer from ye olde England who sets out for the country to settle the affairs of a recently deceased woman. He rolls up to town, asks for a room, and is greeted with a royally cold shoulder from everyone he meets. They hide their kids, they hide their wives, because Daniel Radcliffe be unintentionally dooming everyone up in there. But for some reason, no one clues this lawyer into why they don’t want him around. Apparently, the late broad whose house he’s going to visit is largely thought to be the reason there are so many dead kids in town. So totally aloof as to his situation, he heads off to his client’s abode with the help of a kindly fellow he met on the train. He settles in, completely ignores all the creepy shit littering the mansion, and as he begins to dig up this lady’s shady past, it isn’t long before he realizes why everyone’s been such a dick to him lately.

Now, I was actually looking forward to this movie. Not because it was Radcliffe’s first role post-Harry Potter, and not because I was hoping it would reinvent the genre or anything. The only cause for excitement here was due to an absolutely phenomenal trailer that scared the goo right out of me and everyone else who saw it (see below…IF YOU DARE). As if my embarrassing fear of dolls wasn’t bad enough already, it convinced me that its been-there-done-that premise was anything but, it made me forget about how disappointing The Strangers ended up being despite its brilliant trailer – a lesson I thought I’d never forget. Despite my better judgment, I was hook, line, and sinker. But as much as I can ramble about everything it did wrong, I have no one to blame but myself. Fool me twice, right?

All the same, still gonna ramble.

The fact of the matter is that The Woman in Black gives us nothing that we haven’t seen before and instead borrows heavily from movies that people really need to stop borrowing from. For example, the first half of the movie is essentially a British version of The Grudge. It starts the exact same way with someone launching themselves out a window for no apparent reason, then shifts to the viewpoint of our protagonist who’s already on their way to investigate the cause even though they don’t know it yet. Everything’s cool until they show up to a haunted house, and, by their mere presence, awaken a dormant spirit that starts offing folks left and right. Once that’s all settled, the film makers remember that The Grudge was actually a rip-off of The Ring, and so they shift their focus to jacking that movie right up until the very end. If you’ve seen The Ring, you know where this is going. If you haven’t seen The Ring, watch that instead of this. You’re welcome.

Anyhow, this turning point from The Grudge to The Ring is where things get infuriating.

Now, Daniel Radcliffe spends all of two nights at the said haunted mansion. The first night is spent tooling around for a few hours before hitting the sack in town, the second night he actually decides to sleep there on his own free will. The driving force behind this ridiculous decision is that Radcliffe is hard up for cash and needs to get this lady’s estate taken care of so that he can keep his job at the law firm. He does have reason to stick it out, but by the same token, self preservation takes precedence in these matters, and no one in their right mind would ever go back to that house, let alone spend the freakin’ night, after the unexplainable crap that this guy witnesses on his first visit.

Nevertheless, he does stay the second night, and as is a rule in horror movies, this idiotic decision warrants death. Rather than listening to the advice of everyone around him by taking the midnight train back to London, he proceeds to investigate the mansion and acts like it’s perfectly normal for rocking chairs to rock violently when no one’s sitting in them. Probably happened all the time back then. And on that note, there is nothing subtle about how clearly haunted his new abode is. Screw tricks of the eye or imagining things, this is some Zuul shit we’re talking about. Plus, there is no real explanation or justification for why he opts to help The Woman in Black rather than burn her house down and find a new job. It is one red flag after another, he has the complete opposite reaction to them as every human being would, and you’ll spend the rest of the movie rolling your eyes and yelling at the screen as a result.

On top of all that nonsense, it makes zero sense that no one in town would tell him outright why they don’t want him there or what might happen if he stays. Just tap him on the shoulder, buy him a cold one, and say, “Dude, I know you’ve got a job to do and everything, but this house you’re going to, that shit is haunted by one seriously bad bitch. Sounds crazy, I know, but here’s the 411…” Easy peasy Japanesey. At worst, you risk sounding like a loon, but it just might save your kid from dying. At best, everyone else in town echoes your opinion, Daniel Radcliffe goes home, and you’re not only doing him a favor, but guaranteeing that everyone’s kids stop dying. I can’t be the only person who came to this conclusion. Everyone in this movie kind of sucks.

I mean, is it really that hard to write a horror movie where people behave like people? Is that really so much to ask? Serenity now, man.

Although if there is a saving grace to this movie, it’s that it looks absolutely gorgeous. The scenery and locations, inside and out, are absolutely top-notch, and the faded color tones throughout do a spectacular job of setting the mood. And it really is too bad that I can’t bring myself to give this a higher Verdict if only for this very reason. Then again, just because someone looks like a goddamn supermodel doesn’t mean I’ll stand by and let them yell “BOO!” at me from behind a corner for 95 minutes. Nothing is that pretty, not even Daniel Radcliffe.

Aside from the visuals, The Woman in Black isn’t entirely ineffective as it does have some cheap scares going for it. Nothing you won’t see coming, but enough to induce a fear snuggle from your date. If that’s what you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed. But if you were just as duped by that trailer as I was, you’re in for a rude awakening, friend. As I said, it’s my own damn fault for getting my hopes so high, and that certainly played a factor. Still, it’s been a pretty underwhelming year for horror movies thus far, and this ain’t helping matters any.

What a totally garbage ending, too.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2012 10:26 am

    Ehh, I didn’t hate this but it surely wasn’t anything new or special in terms of horror-movies. The high-light of this movie for me was actually that second night when it’s just Radcliffe getting totally fucked with by the ghosts in the house. It doesn’t make sense and it’s a tad stupid, but it’s still a bunch of fun to watch. Good review my man. Also, how weird was it that Harry Potter already had a 3-year old kid in this? Too soon, man. Too soon.

    • October 17, 2012 1:17 pm

      Haha. Thanks, man. Glad you liked it more than I did, but I couldn’t deal with Radcliffe’s behavior on that second night. That motherfucker was begging for it.

      And that’s a good point about the kid. HP should not be parenting toddlers just yet.

  2. Livi permalink
    October 17, 2012 10:29 am

    Wow, I laughed harder at this than anything I’ve read in the last month! So funny…and unfortunately, I could see this coming. Nothing against the Potts, but it’s hard to take him seriously now, no matter how could the film might be. He needs to do something grittier (R rated:) to take his good-boy image away, don’t you think?

    • October 17, 2012 1:19 pm

      Haha. Why thank you! That makes it all worth while.

      And Radcliffe really does need to do something totally against-type to shake HP off his shoulders. Dude should have rallied to get Equus turned into a movie or something.

  3. October 17, 2012 10:40 am

    Oh man, this was hilarious. Horrible movie, sure, but it made you write this so it’s now okay in my book. I have the longest day at work and secretly reading CTC is always a surefire way to pull me halfway through it. Or get me fired, but y’know. Whatever. Greetings from the Dutch land.

    • October 17, 2012 1:22 pm

      Haha. Thanks so much and happy to help! Makes my day to read this. Keep on truckin’ at the job, hope the boss doesn’t bust ya’, and thanks a mil for reading. God bless the Dutch!

  4. October 17, 2012 11:09 am

    Brilliant review,although i did enjoy it but seemed very predictable and like Livi said its very hard to accept any of the Potter stars in anything outside the series although Matthew Lewis who played Neville Longbottom was in a fantastic Kay Mellor british drama called The Syndicate.

    • October 17, 2012 1:23 pm

      Thanks! I gotta check out The Syndicate now. Neville transformed into a bonafide badass by the last HP movie, not all that surprised to hear he’s still carrying the torch. Thanks for the heads up!

  5. October 17, 2012 5:56 pm

    In will admit that this movie scared the crap out of me. But to be fair, I am a total wimp when it comes to ghost movies. I agree though, I was yelling at the screen (inside, since I was at the theater) when DR decides to sleep over at the scary haunted house. Although I suppose that if characters in horror movies acted like real humans, they would see the ghost/killer/monster for the first time and then wrap up in a blanket with all the lights on and turn on “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, and that wouldn’t be very entertaining.
    Sidenote: I have “The Innkeepers” sitting on my DVR waiting for me because you said it was so good. But after reading this, I am really afraid to watch it…

    • October 17, 2012 6:29 pm

      Haha. Well I’m glad it at least spooked ya’. It does take quite a few cheap shots, so I’m sure you’re not the only one it had the desired effect on.

      Although I refuse to believe that you can’t make a horror movie with realistic characters. Did you see The Cabin in the Woods? Not super scary per se, but definitely one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in recent memory.

      And OH how I loved The Innkeepers. Got a mixed response from commenters after that review went up, but I stand by it firmly. Hope you like it and get ready!

  6. October 21, 2012 3:23 am

    Damn. I was kinda looking forward to checking this out alone and in the dark.

    • October 28, 2012 12:26 pm

      Jury’s still out, man. I’ve gotten a handful of replies totally disagreeing with me on this one. Not saying I agree with ’em, but I wouldn’t rule that movie night out just yet.

  7. October 23, 2012 7:45 am

    I found the original on VHS a few years ago and paid considerable bucks to get it transferred to DVD. I’m not shelling out again for the remake. From your review, and another I’ve read, Radcliffe and Co have followed the original very closely.
    The night he spent alone in the house was very unsettling, but there’s another moment near the end when I damn near crapped my pants.

  8. December 2, 2012 9:27 pm

    The movie makers should stop doing this genre, is too complicated to find a good horror movie…I never, never keep any illusion with this kind of films. Don’t get so frustrated…it’s what it is: horror.

    • December 10, 2012 11:41 am

      You see Cabin in the Woods yet? Not exactly scary, but it’s the best thing to happen to the horror genre in a while (IMHO). Still, it’s been an underwhelming year for horror all the same.

      • December 10, 2012 12:39 pm

        are you serious??? :O

      • December 10, 2012 1:01 pm

        Hell to the yeah! Check it out, it’s one of my favorites of the year.

      • December 10, 2012 1:41 pm

        Can’t believe it!!! I didn’t like it at all!!! The only thing I thought while I was seen it was: cheap movie, cheap movie…an then appear Sigourney Weaver and I Said : OMG Sigourney Weaver has to be in a serious economical crisis to act in this movie for just 5 minutes. But well every movie has its public. 😉

      • December 11, 2012 8:24 am

        Hahaha. Well that’s a-okay, you’re not the first person I’ve gotten that reaction from either. Different strokes for different folks, yo.

        But how about The Innkeepers or The Loved One (especially The Loved Ones)?

      • December 11, 2012 10:40 am

        never saw those …I’m gonna… 😀

      • December 11, 2012 10:45 am

        Haha. Right on. Let me know what you think. We gotta find some common ground here.

  9. February 8, 2013 1:02 pm

    From what you said, the things you didn’t like about the film are the things they didn’t change from the book. In the novella, he stays overnight and everyone in the village wants him to go away but won’t tell him why. In the novel it adds to the mystery but it doesn’t come across as well in the film. Although, even in the book him staying overnight was a complete, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!” reaction. I quite enjoyed the film. Its the first ghost film I’ve ever sat through – I hate anything to do with ghosts – and I have to say that the best thing about the film was the scene where he is walking around Eel Marsh House in the dark with only a candle and all you can hear is the candle flickering. Its magical. I didn’t hear it when I watched it again at home but in the cinema, it was perfect.

    • February 10, 2013 2:20 pm

      Very interesting. Glad it worked better in the book, and glad you liked the movie more than I did, but alas, just couldn’t look past the countless WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! moments that kept going down. If you like ghost movies though, have you checked out The Innkeepers? It’s on Netflix Instant and is one of my favorite ghost movies as of late. Anyway, let me know and thanks for stopping by!

      Also, “From Books to Film” is a GREAT idea for a blog!

      • February 11, 2013 3:35 pm

        I haven’t seen The InnKeepers but I’ll look out for it. I’m in the UK and I don’t think its on our Netflix but it might be eventually. And thanks for the comment on the blog! It would be better if I actually blogged on it every now and again!

      • February 11, 2013 3:45 pm

        Haha. Coming off a two month hiatus myself, I totally know the feeling. Let me know if you ever end up catching The Innkeepers, and keep it up on your end!

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