Having heard friends’ reviews of Daniel Radcliffe’s first film since clearing away his cloak and wand, I was wondering why I was about to pay to sit in a dark room and scare myself silly for ninety minutes. Telling the story of an old house haunted by a ‘Woman in Black’ whose own son was killed, she kills any children in the village to seek revenge.
The ghoul is disrupted when the owner dies and a solicitor with his own young family visits the house to attend to and organise the papers of the deceased. As you can imagine, chaos and terror ensues.
Definitely a film to be placed in the ‘horror’ film genre, it dishes out lashings of heart-stopping scares, and the use of suspense to manipulate the audience is admittedly impressive: I screamed when a mere crow flew out of a chimney.
However, despite having some genuinely terrifying moments, and definitely giving you your money’s worth in terms of frights, the story is essentially incredibly simple and basic. Having seen the stage show in the West End, the film toys with and distorts the original plot line. As a three man show, it really gives the story room to develop. The film complicates this, introducing new characters and multiple storylines which don’t really add much.
It embraces horror film clichés like an old acquaintance: you find yourself shouting at the screen, wondering why oh why Daniel is wandering towards the ghostly sound of footsteps and not on the first train back to civilisation and alive people. Essentially this is not a film; it is a cardiac-arrest waiting to happen.