“I will never forgive.”
– Jennet Humfrye, The Woman in Black
I admit it! Yes, I only watched this movie because I wanted to see Daniel Radcliffe “Expecto Patronum” some evil spirits. Don’t hurt me!
Sorry, but lately when I’ve been mentioning this movie to people, or telling them I’ve seen it, they usually reply with, “I bet you only watched it because the guy who played Harry Potter is in it.”
You got me. Congrats.
But if you are one of those people, stay tuned. Because I’m here to tell everyone that not only is this movie very good, but it’s very good for reasons besides its actors (who, by the way, were excellent).
I’ll start off by saying if you haven’t seen this movie, I strongly recommend not reading any plot summaries beforehand (and don’t worry, this review doesn’t have spoilers). The simple yet tightly wound storyline is what powers the movie, giving it the power to latch on to your mind and keep you asking the same question over and over again:
“How the Fawkes are they going to explain everything that’s going on right now?”
Be patient, my viewing friends. Because they do explain, and while it’s the kind of twist we think we should’ve been expecting, we realize we actually weren’t.
Let me back up. The setup: Arthur Kipps, played by an all-grown-up Daniel Radcliffe, is a lawyer whose wife died four years ago giving birth to their son. It’s his job to visit a property at the edge of a small British town and sort through the legal paperwork of the house, since its owner—a woman named Mrs. Drablow—recently died. But the townspeople are secretive in their interactions with him, especially on the subject of why most of the town’s children have died in accidents over the years.
So as I said, what really holds our attention is the mystery behind the plot. The movie’s pacing is strange, but works to its fullest advantage: the first forty minutes or so are all backstory of the town and house, but with plenty of jumpy little scares along the way. The next half hour is devoted to Arthur’s journey through the house, which had me on the edge of my seat for the entire time. Then, the twist and climax, which both are within twenty minutes of each other. Then everything closes with one final twist on the ending, and on a surprisingly gentle note, the film wraps up at just under an hour and a half.
There are only a handful of characters that play out the story, but each of them is powered by a strong actor who brings them to life. Most of the characters are quite likable, something I found unusual for a paranormal suspense movie, and the story treats them in just the right way.
I promise I’m trying to incorporate dislikes into my reviews, but unfortunately I can’t think of many for this movie. It’s free of gore and (mostly) blood, rounding it out as a psychological scare rather than a cheap one full of people getting ripped in half. The acting is superb. And the story itself never misses a beat, spoon-feeding us the answers we’re craving. I suppose my biggest complaint is the fact that I was able to watch it without any nightmares.
So, in conclusion: this movie is unique because it’s a suspense/thriller suitable for those who hate suspense thrillers as well as gore violence. If you’re looking for a short, frightening but not-too-disturbing scary flick that has quality actors and an intelligent plot, pick this one for Halloween.
Of course, tonight is Halloween, so you can’t really do that. But mark it on your calendars for next year, at least.
Rate: 9 out of 10.
On a slightly related note, as one of my friends pointed out, today is also the anniversary of James and Lily Potters’ deaths. Yeah, “Happy Halloween”…enjoy the candy, sickos.