3 February 2012 | DinosaurAct86
One of my favorite horror theater experiences
I am vividly aware, as are most avid moviegoers, of the horror movie machine. It churns out Final Destinations, exorcism films, and at an even higher frequency, ghost films. At first glance, The Woman in Black appears to be yet another of these "ghost films," where cheap scares, predictable plot "twists," and horrible acting drag the viewer down into an hour-and-a-half maelstrom of mediocrity that can only end at the appearance of "Directed by..."
According to most of the reviewers thus far, The Woman in Black was a letdown. So perhaps it is because I went into the film with no expectations that I came out of it impressed and very, very shaken. I do not plan to explain the plot to you (many have done this already and there is a synopsis which does a far better job than I could), but I will argue in favor of how successfully scary this film was. Yes, it contains ghost film elements we have all seen before, but they are cleverly and patiently arranged so that the viewer becomes totally enveloped in atmospheric dread. Sure, there are "jump" scares, but these are also complimented by many shots which unfold slowly and effectively. It sometimes reminded me of the 1961 film, The Innocents, if that gives you a better idea. Radcliffe is also a worthy focal point of the film, keeping most of the fear and anticipation unspoken throughout.
I would not nominate this film for any kind of award, but it achieves what I believe should be the ultimate goal of all "horror" movies: to draw us in so close that when our fear manifests itself on-screen, it is already too late to turn away. It rates high as one of my favorite horror theater experiences, alongside The Descent and The Strangers.