As with all films of this genre, the scare effect is greatest the first time you see it. While this is still the case for The Woman in Black, I have to admit that it does possess an eerie and creepy quality that continues to linger on subsequent viewings.
Daniel Radcliffe and Ciaran Hinds both give commanding performances and commit to their roles in this adaptation of Susan Hills 1983 novel of the same name. Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young Victorian-era lawyer with a small child. The passing of his Wife in childbirth four years earlier has left Kipps haunted with sorrow and unable to execute his duties to his employers satisfaction. On a last chance job, he is sent from London to settle the estate affairs of a deceased client. The old house is set in the English countryside on the outskirts of a small village and the townsfolk are typically superstitious and unwelcoming. However they have good reason, the village children have been dying at an alarming rate and a mysterious black figure has been seen in the grounds of the old house.
Hinds plays Sam Daily, one of the less superstitious neighbours in the village. He and Kipps strike up a friendship on the train journey in, and he tries to help Kipps in solving the mystery. Daily and his wife, played by Janet McTeer, have also lost a son of their own under rather strange circumstances. The Childs death has left Daily heart-broken and his Wife suffering with a mental illness.
There are some of the usual scare tactics in this film but they are done really well while some very clever new one crop up here and there. There are numerous scenes where I felt chills running down my spine. The whole film is very dark and adds to the creepy feel and impending nightmare that approaches. I found the film enjoyably scary throughout. Please remember that this was adapted from a novel, and what works well in a book does not always work well on screen, so if you have read the book, be prepared for some changes.
Because of his past acting history in the most successful film franchise ever, it will be hard for most viewers not to see Daniel Radcliff as Harry Potter. I admit to feeling the same when he is on screen but after ten or twenty minutes you soon forget his previous role and the character he is really portraying emerges. A few more decent films and I think the shadow of Potter will fade.
Being a new film freshly transferred to Blu-ray, the image is sharp and without blemish, the sound is presented in 5.1 DTS and standard Stereo. The film runs for ninety five minutes and if you enjoy clever ghost stories like The Ring, then you will enjoy this.
Highly recommended for a good fright.