What makes The Woman in Black so refreshing is its adherence to old-school psychological horror, featuring an isolated and haunted mansion, rocking chairs, beheaded dolls, random screams, mysterious deaths, untold secrets, dangerous silence, suspiciously hostile locals, a hallucination sequence, and horrifying consequences. While some eyebrows were raised when Daniel Radcliffe was announced as the leading man, his performance as Arthur Kipps, a down-on-his-luck solicitor, is captivating. Despite spending much of the film alone in the haunted mansion, Radcliffe manages to hold your attention throughout.
Arthur is tasked with settling the affairs of the late Mrs. Alice Drablow, but upon arriving in the remote town, he is met with hostility from the villagers who clearly do not want him there. As Arthur unlocks the secrets of the mansion and the land, the story’s haunting mood is established effortlessly by director James Watkins. While the build-up is slow and steady, the payoff is worth it.
The Edwardian setting itself is unnerving, and the film’s cinematography, creepy sound effects, and Marco Beltrami’s eerie background score only add to the chilling atmosphere. The Woman in Black is not a film for those expecting non-stop jump scares like in Saw, but for fans of classic horror, it is a must-see.
While younger audiences may not appreciate the film’s slow pace, Daniel Radcliffe’s performance, combined with the film’s gothic setting and haunting mood, makes The Woman in Black a standout horror film that proves Radcliffe’s talent beyond the Harry Potter franchise.