The Woman in Black (2011)

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This new Woman in Black film is very jumpy. Lots of ‘BOO!’ moments, far too many to count. The adverts feature that thing that a lot of not-very-good horrors do, which is show footage of a bunch of wimps leaping out of their seats (sometimes in night-vision, which makes them look extra creepy), though for all we know they could have been watching something much scarier, like the new Jennifer Aniston movie. The idea behind these ads is – ‘look, you know all those trailers that tell you this is scary and you will be scared and all that. Don’t believe them. We’re the real deal. Look, here are people just like you pooping their pantaloons, and you will too’.

Well, as I said, the film is jumpy. Jumps are a guaranteed way to scare people. If it’s quiet and you’re reading a book, let’s say for example’s sake, The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, you’re lost in concentration and some twat pops a balloon right next to you, then you will jump. You may also get rather annoyed with said prankster. After a while, The Woman in Black feels like the work of a prankster. And you too may get annoyed. I did a little, it has to be said.

It also has to be said that the film is not scary, and I know that it’s a ‘12’, but what about Jaws, which used to be a ‘PG’ but is now a ‘12’ and yet manages to be scarier than a thousand ‘18’ films put together. The problem is that constant jump-scares are good for a laugh, and the haunted house where Harry Potter goes to stay to do some accounting is magnificently atmospheric and beautifully sepulchral (good word, that), but underneath the surface there’s nothing to haunt your dreams. The woman in black herself is not really threatening. I’ve had my fill of horrors where a mysterious figure looms in the distance – you know, she’s there one minute, do a double-take, then she’s not. The ending is supposed to be incredibly affecting, but it came off rather twee. There’s one good suspense bit involving a boggy marsh, a car and some rope, but neither the house and the woman in black are present, and they’re the main antagonists, so to speak.

The supporting cast is fine, a couple of good show-stealing actors here. Saying that, trying to steal the show from Daniel Radcliffe is like nicking a Snickers from a toddler. Radcliffe just doesn’t have enough range here. He’s in a constant state of perpetual mildly worried bemusement, and to prove he’s being serious, he only smiles maybe once in the film. I just wasn’t scared for him, he didn’t convey fear. The whole enterprise is as creaky as the haunted house itself. Don’t know why I was surprised. Haunted houses just aren’t scary any more. It’s all been done. Creaky stairs. Spooky old-fashioned toys. Windows slamming shut. Cold breezes. The lights never work. Zzzzzzzzz I mean, the haunted house shtick was old even back in the late seventies, which is why some guys thought to rework the idea and set it in space. That film was Alien. Go watch that instead.

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