Hear Me Out Before You Shut Me Out

The Woman in Black: Potter Lives…Barely

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The Woman in Black is distributed by CBS Films

Now that Harry Potter is over, many will wonder what will happen to the actors now? The problem with blockbusters like these is that they wind up killing the actors’ careers before they even start. They find it hard to match the success of their previous role. Daniel Radcliffe would seem to have the hardest time to adjust. He just can’t go from playing The Boy Who Lived to being something completely different…or can he? Will he have life after Hogwarts? Many hoped so with The Woman in Black.

This movie marks the return to Hammer horror and features a lot of classic horror tropes: goth, ghosts, jump scares…so many and so typical that you can predict when they happen. You know those screamer videos where you know something is bound to jump out and shock you? The Woman in Black is a 95 minute screamer video, except occasionally effective in its jump scares. An interesting story and style aside, the movie mostly comes out as a shallow and only somewhat decent horror mystery with only gimmicks and little impact.

Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young father who goes into a town to investigate Eel Marsh Manor. The place is inhabited by the ghost of its previous owner: a woman who lost her son in the marsh. In her vengeance, she takes out the children of the townspeople one by one. Anyone who sees her will know a child will meet his/her end. Throughout the movie, Kipps learns more about her and discovers why she bring s her wrath to the town.

Radcliffe suffers the same problem that Shia LaBeouf suffered in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: he’s sadly miscast but tries nevertheless to make it work. He still suffers from that boyish charm that made him sell Harry Potter. Just like in the ending of Deathly Hallows Part II, he couldn’t convince the audience that he was a father. Despite this youthful handicap, he tries to make an effort. You can see it in his eyes in a number of scenes. With time and age, he might be one of the greatest actors of his generation.

While the story itself provides an intriguing mystery, the delivery turns into a drinking game: take a shot for every scene that obviously leads to a jump. The sudden silence as the movie goes on; the slow movement; the obvious dark scenery and/or cliché setups. You name it, and they have it all. Some jumps actually do freak people out even if you can predict them, but the rest become too easy and too tiresome to care anymore. The delivery of the story gets rather sluggish in the first half of the movie and picks up right around the middle of the film. Too much silence in the house doesn’t seem too compelling. The Gothic style of the movie does fit well with the story, and the costumes and sets really do add to it. If they took out some of the tropes and replaced them with something more interesting, the movie wouldn’t suffer so much. A good number of the cinematography actually provides some good shots, especially those with the Woman putting her influence on the children. Again, the style.

The Woman in Black sadly becomes one of those movies that offer no impact to people despite a number of things. Radcliffe tries to fit but only somewhat succeeds. The jump scares get tiresome pretty quickly. It’s an interesting story but required some reworking to prevent being held back as just cheap entertainment. So will Daniel Radcliffe have a career after Harry Potter? It’s possible, but not in here.

Final rating: 5.5 (Don’t Go)

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