Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Woman in Black ★ ★ ★★

Hammer Horror: Haunting once again

Release Dates
in cinemas17th May
, 2012
Other Countries Release Dates

DVD release date:  USA  22nd May, 2012  UK  18th June 2012

               As a kid in the sixties, my favourite films were horror with a majority coming from the Hammer Horror Films stable.  Give me a Dracula, Mummy or Frankenstein any day over Lassie and Bambi. I would cut deals with my Mother that if I napped in the afternoon, I could then stay up past my bedtime to watch the horror flick.  Despite my viewing taste, I didn’t grow up to be a serial killer; I just grew up to be a horror writer.
               When I heard that the new revamped Hammer Horror Studios were releasing their first ghost story, The Woman in Black, I was first in line, dragging my children along with me.  They jumped, laughing nervously, at the spook bits and the eleven-year-old spent some of the film with his hands over his eyes, cringing in his chair.  Now before you start nominating me for ‘Bad Mother of the Year’, remember the fun you had being scared witless when you were a kid?
               That thrill is rarely there in horror films these days.  Either we are more sophisticated or they just don’t make them like they used to anymore.  After The Woman in Black, my verdict is the latter.   So, a huge ‘thank you’ to Hammer Horror for rectifying this with a great adaption of Susan Hill’s 1982 novel.
               Originally founded in 1934, legendary British film studio, Hammer delivered, in the sixties and seventies, a hugely successful run of films including Dracula, Frankenstein Created Woman, One Million Years B.C. and The Vampire Lovers. Not in production since the 1980s, Hammer marked their return to features in 2010 with the release of the critically acclaimed Let Me In, an adaptation of the highly praised Swedish vampire film.
               For Simon Oakes (producer and president and CEO of Hammer), The Woman in Black was one of the first properties of interest to the recently reborn genre label. “One of the things we talked about, as a team, when we first put this new incarnation of Hammer together was that horror is made of many different genres and subgenres but in recent years the tendency has been for body count horror,” he explains. “We wanted to explore different kinds of horror, and while there’d been a TV movie and a stage play, we recognised a great opportunity in The Woman in Black to combine Susan Hill’s gothic ghost story with a modern sensibility to turn it into a feature film.”

               For his part, Daniel Radcliffe recognised the need to strike out from the role of the Harry Potter that made him famous. “I’m very, very proud of Potter,” Radcliffe says. “But I now have to prove to people that I’m serious about acting, and I think the way to do that is to start selecting some interesting material.”
               The particular challenge of playing Arthur, for Radcliffe,  was in the character’s peculiar stillness. “There are moments when you shouldn’t be sure what Arthur’s thinking,” he says. “You know it’s probably not happy thoughts, but you’re not sure exactly why, or what he’s going through at particular moments. That just leaves a little bit more room for the audience to relate, because they can just insert any emotion that they assume he might be feeling.”
               Radcliffe plays a young bereaved London solicitor Arthur Kipps who must leave his three-year-old son and travel to the remote and unwelcoming village of Crythin Gifford to attend to the affairs of the recently deceased female owner of Eel Marsh House.  He must go through her prolific paper work to ensure her will is the only true will.
               We already know there is something wrong in the village.  In the opening scenes three young sisters climb, trancelike, out their attic window to fall to their deaths.  When Arthur crosses the moors to visit the house, it is clear that once there the tide will cut him off from the mainland, trapping him in the dishevelled and dusty house longer than he wants.
               The haunted house delivers the horrors of upstairs noises and banging, glimpses of shadowy figures and one or two adrenaline filled jump-in-your-seat scares. The reveal of the real truth of Eel Marsh House is skilfully handled and whilst you always wonder why characters stay in these haunted houses, the story provides thoughtful answers to Arthur’s motivations.  The suspense is skilfully built with a solid supporting cast and artful sets and costumes. A twist at the end, should give any horror aficionado a satisfying feeling that this is a class act all the way. 
               Hammer horror is back and that is a great thing for the genre and its fans.  With The Woman in Black, Hammer has proved horror can be stylish and thoughtful and we horror fans may enjoy some disturbed sleep in the future but that is how we like it.  Thankfully, I now don’t have to nap in the afternoons to indulge my passion.


Enjoy this trailer of the 1959 movie, The Mummy.  For years, this gave me nightmares anytime I was in a small room with only one door for escape.

Hammer Films classic film trailer from 1958, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula.

No comments:

Post a Comment