The Woman in Black

A horror film that will taunt you repeatedly for being so emotionally weak that you secretly like good horror films.

The Woman in BlackFirst of all, let me warn you that The Woman in Black is a scary psychological thriller that will leave you squirming in your seat. Daniel Radcliffe is no Harry Potter, here playing the widowed father of a small boy who is trying to save a job with his law firm while simultaneously wrestling with the death of his beloved wife during childbirth.

This is one of those classic horror films that makes me thankful that I only have effective vision in one eye. While I have always enjoyed seeing good supernatural films that practically scared me to death, I hate, absolutely HATE, any scene where a diabolical character suddenly jumps onto the screen. As a result, I freely pretend to be rubbing my forehead while covering my right eye, allowing me only a distorted vision of some ghastly event that is about to leave the audience screaming in ghastly terror.

Taking place at the turn of the 20th century, Radcliffe’s attorney is forced to travel to a small town in England to try to determine why a deceased woman’s estate hasn’t been closed by local counsel. Radcliffe’s unease on leaving his crying son with a nanny is not helped by what he is about to experience.

Greeted as an unwelcomed visitor by nearly everyone, Radcliffe suddenly discovers that children have been violently dying for mysterious reasons over a significant period of time. What’s worse, his visit to the abandoned mansion of the deceased woman that he is investigating sends him spiraling into a past that was better off ignored.

While it is impossible to describe in any more detail what occurs in this diabolically clever little film without giving significant parts of the movie away, I must acknowledge that the only local resident with any semblance of common sense is played by the great Ciarán Hinds. On the other hand, while Mr. Hinds tries to help, Radcliffe quickly discovers that Hinds’ mentally disturbed wife lost their own son some years before. What is going on, and why are so many parents in continual, unresolvable agony?

The title of the film refers to the deceased woman that Radcliffe grows disturbingly close to, and the film at that point can only make you relieved that you didn’t take any children with you to see this foreboding adventure. Even though it is rated PG-13, I learned that some friends of my 13 year old grandson went to see it with adults. At least one of the young girls was so petrified that she literally could not go to sleep that evening, so consider yourself warned. (And no, I did not take my grandson!)

Having said that, The Woman in Black is right up your alley if you enjoy being emotionally enveloped in a good horror film. Radcliffe again demonstrates that he has considerable talent, and he clearly is an actor who cannot be ignored in a period piece such as this film.

Additionally, The Woman in Black reminded me of the captivating foreign film, The Orphanage (2007). In this wonderful little film, a woman brings her family back to her childhood residence, a closed orphanage that she tries to re-open. Her loving young son soon begins to communicate with an unseen friend, and it mirrors The Woman in Black in that it is a colossally moving film that will all but break your heart at its conclusion.

As suggested, The Woman in Black essentially goes down the same path. Despite the fact that he is totally in over his head, Radcliffe courageously faces the unknown to try to solve the connection between the mysterious deceased woman and the agony being repeatedly visited on the local village.

As he literally staggers into the face of Gothic danger, see if you can possibly resist the ghastly gravitational pull of this fine film. However, don’t blame me if you do as I am the guy with only one good eye! After all, even a coward has to resort to whatever is available to survive in a theater.