Movie: The Woman in Black
My Rating: 4 stars
Oooo. This is a really spooky one. I’ve been watching a lot of horror this month, but this is my first, good, old-fashioned, Victorian, haunted house movie of the season. And, these things are terrifying. Mama was a classic ghost story, but with these haunting movies, it’s really more about the house than the ghosts. All that dark wall-paper and old wood, the dusty chandeliers, and dimly lit foyers in these old-fashioned homes. You’d imagine ghosts hiding in every nook and cranny, even if the house wasn’t known for being haunted. Just add a shrieking, Victorian ghost, with a reputation for killing little children to the mix, and you’ve got some serious chills.
This is the ghost of a heartbroken mother. Her son was taken from her by meddling family members who deemed her incompetent, and then he was left to die from neglect. (There’s always a kid involved!). So, this real mother took her own life, and vowed to haunt the grounds of the family estate, taking children from the townspeople who could have helped her while she was alive. Daniel Radcliffe plays the young lawyer who is in charge of distributing the estate and selling the house after this family tragedy. He’s also a melancholy soul, because his beloved wife died a few years prior during childbirth. His little son is an adorable, little English lad, though, with that serious, little accent. It’s so cute! But, it’s not enough to warm his father’s heart. And, then Radcliff is sent by his law firm to settle affairs at that cursed old house. Nothing good can come of that.
Director James Watkins creates an absolutely terrifying haunting. The house is dark, dusty, and creaky. Doors open and close, lock and unlock without warning. Ghost children come knock on the front door all night. Rocking chairs rock violently. The dark woman in black lingers in every mirror, keyhole, and window reflection. But, the worst part is all the mechanical, taxidermied, musical toys that litter the house, and that turn on and off whenever Radcliffe inspects old family secrets that he shouldn’t be disturbing. It’s horrifying—little (real) stuffed monkeys with cymbals and chomping teeth, rabbits with spinning heads, china dolls whose eyes stare into your soul. It’s ghastly. I imagine these toys were supposed to be very charming to a little Victorian child. And, they were probably quite costly. But, they are pure horror to me.
This is a very scary movie. I was fooled into thinking it wouldn’t be that bad by the old-timey look of the thing, but this movie was far more terrifying than any of the others I’ve seen this month. It’s the kind of film that will have you just sitting, staring wide-eyed at the TV, holding your breath, waiting for the next startle. And, the haunting does not let up for a second. You won’t want to watch this film too close to bedtime, because it’ll really mess with your dreams. (Or, at least leave you staring at the ceiling, going over all the terrible scenes in your mind for hours). So, what I’m saying is that I recommend this movie if you’re looking to really scare yourself. This one is brutal.