So this review might come out sounding rather scathing, but this is more a statement about the ‘hysteria’ which has surrounded it and not due to the actual quality of The Woman in Black itself. I even took the trouble to watch it twice before committing myself to a review, contemplating what angle is best to go for. I decided to just be unflinchingly blatant, as usual.

There have been a vast number of rave reviews for this one which have pushed it a little too far for my liking. Yes, I thought The Woman in Black was a good film, but the fact that it has become the highest grossing British horror film in 20 years is quite frankly beyond me. It leaves a rather stale and bitter taste in my mouth, to be honest. James Watkins (who was the director of The Woman in Black) also did Eden Lake, which I thought was much more unsettling to watch and seemed to have more of a ‘statement’, as well as co-writing My Little Eye, Gone and The Descent Part 2, all of which have set the standard for British horror. Ultimately, The Woman in Black is a fairly conventional ghost story which does have a creepy atmosphere and several ‘jumpy’ moments, but it’s not exactly groundbreaking. Maybe it’s just because my expectations were too high (because everyone I knew who’d seen it gave glowing reports) as I don’t think it deserved all of the hype that it received. Although, I think a large part of that hype was due to the fact that Daniel Radcliffe’s name was attached and that it would be his first major role post-Harry Potter. He did a pretty average job acting it, in my opinion, feeling a bit empty and restrained at times, but I guess his character called for such traits so that’s fair enough. I can also only imagine how hard it must be for him to try and get people to see ‘past’ Harry Potter and so he already had a tricky job on his hands.

It was a very suspenseful film and managed to scare without resorting to bloody violence which is a definite plus. The horror was more understated, in the way that a lot of Japanese horror films are, as they’re all about atmosphere rather than action action action. So the film is littered with horror movie clichés, but I don’t really hold that against it – I mean, a haunted house is the perfect setting for a horror film! No complaints there.

The locations and general surroundings in the film were effectively chilling, true to ‘haunted house’ form. A brief summary of the story behind the ghost in the house would be that there was a woman that accuses her sister of stealing her baby boy, who later drowns, causing the woman to kill herself, cursing the entire town as she did. My problem with this is that I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind the woman’s resentment to the entire town, even as hateful ghosts go, it seems quite an over reaction – especially as Arthur Kipps (played by Daniel Radcliffe) did not even come from that town and was just an innocent passer-by. I suppose a reaction to this statement would be that the woman was already very unstable in life and so is probably even worse as a ghost, showing no reason or restraint at all, but I do think that is a little on the lazy side, story-wise. Characters need proper motivations and thinking processes, just as real people do, otherwise they lack the basic element of believability. I know that’s pretty rich given that she’s a ghost and all, but I just feel that even a slight adjustment to the back-story would have made a vast improvement.

Even more frustrating is the fact that a sequel has already been announced – no surprises there then, the film industry has long been about making an easy buck. Given that sequels are a ‘must’ with horror movies, I suppose I can’t be all that shocked, coupled with the fact that the film had what I call a ‘non-ending’ (where things are just kind of left hanging in the breeze). All in all, an entertaining film with some definite scares, but don’t allow the hype to sweep you away.