Harry Potter no more. Daniel Radcliffe has shown that he can move on from the 10 years spent as the “Boy Who Lived.”
Now playing widower, father and lawyer Arthur Kipps, he must deal with the angered soul of a dead woman and try to save the children of the village and his own son from her wrath.
While he does a nice job in the film and is pretty believable as a father and lawyer, he doesn’t seem to showcase the depth of the character, and remains a little flat. However the story is good, the scenes are beautiful and the camera angles instill a sense of fear. All of this works to the movie’s favor.
The movie is set back in a time of horse-drawn carriages and dirt roads, where only the wealthiest man in town has a car. Arthur has recently lost his wife and is raising his son alone with a nanny. While on the verge of being fired from his job, he’s sent to sort through a deceased woman’s estate and sell it. All the while, Radcliffe merely looks as if he is in a trance of grief and talks very matter-of-fact to people, with no range of emotion.
Arthur arrives and is met by the strange people in the village who lend him no help. They are adamant about him leaving and staying away from the house to a harsh degree. Ever the business man, though, he ignores the warnings and catches a ride to the estate, now somewhat curious.
Beautiful landscapes haunt the scenes. There is lush vegetation and stunning architecture on a small scale, which really adds to the visual appeal, and brings you into the world where a ghost is lurking.
Right away the titular woman shows herself and begins to terrorize him. Scenes with subdued gray colors, dark rooms foreshadowing ghosts popping out of places, mirrors to add to the effect and loud and abrupt noises make the atmosphere genuinely upsetting and unsettling.
Arthur remains stoic, however. Radcliffe’s performance gives Arthur the feel of a man who’s gone through so much that not even a spectral enemy will phase him. It’s equal parts humble and foolhardy but it works. He’s a near silent character throughout the film, but it’s a strategic move. His instinct to continue sorting through paperwork in order to uncover what’s going on speaks more about his character than simple dialogue would.
As Arthur becomes invested in this woman and the mystery behind her, he tries his best to help the spirit reach peace. Too bad the woman in black wreaks havoc anyway, and with some unfortunate casualties.
The ending is abrupt and a bit of a head-scratcher, but that doesn’t detract from a genuinely creepy film — and that’s sometimes hard to accomplish with a PG-13 rating.Contact Erin Caputo.