Following the epic conclusion in Harry Potter franchise last summer and being Daniel Radcliffe’s first leading role since finishing what made him a young star, The Woman In Black was already going to very quickly gain a wide capacity of viewers! Plus, because the film is part of a genre that’s different for Dan and many out there at his age love the horror genre, expectations were high. Unfortunately, Dan will always be recognised as Harry Potter but despite that, he manages to pull off a very different performance in a very haunting and intense film that will undoubtedly leave you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
The identical similarities from other films that The Woman In Black bestows are the vintage eerie and dark backgrounds as part of not only the horror genre, but set within the Edwardian and Victorian eras. These concepts are where The Woman In Black is partially linked with references from 1922 silent horror Nosferatu and particularly Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. Plus, The Woman In Black provides characteristics about the true nature of horror and suspense that we rarely see in this current generation. This basically means that the film focuses more on the on-going suspense and slow anticipation that’ll shake the audience rather than using the other “scary” technique: firing tons of blood and guts on the screen.
Having never fully blown us away out of all eight films as Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe became an almost entirely different actor in The Woman In Black! His performance was very impressive as Arthur Kipps, sold the suspenseful scenes and has transformed from boy into man. However, there was a sense of innocence about him that will most likely always be there. He perhaps looked a bit too young for such a mature character especially when the majority of his fellow supporting actors are middle-aged. Dan’s performance provides a rare but unique difference between appearing as a character and performing as a character. What’s meant by this is that considering 21 year old Dan still looks very young for a character who sounds more in his 30s; he adds the suspenseful and terrifying aspects that mix the innocence of victims and the psychologically ruthless terror of ghosts and demons.
As far as supporting cast are concerned, Misha Handley, Radcliffe’s real-life godson, portrays his on-screen son, Joseph Kipps. We don’t see much of Handley in the film, but when we do, he is your typical innocent and cute little child who’s just stuck in a horror film. Ciarán Hinds who portrayed Aberforth Dumbledore in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II had briefly worked with Daniel Radcliffe before. Admittedly, a lawyer who looks like a teenager and a middle-aged man in solving a mystery may be the most unorthodox relationship in a film, but because Dan’s portrayal was splendid and Hinds’ character Sam Daily was almost like an elder brother and close friend figure, they connected well together. Academy Award nominee Janet McTeer’s portrayal of Elizabeth Daily was brilliant and Liz White’s mild but crucial appearance made The Woman In Black an even more terrifying experience.
James Watkins makes only his second film in his career after 2008 horror hit Eden Lake, but has been a producer of other horrors and thrillers - My Little Eye, Gone and The Descent: Part 2. With the experiences of horror films under his belt, Watkins makes a film that provides the true meaning of horror and suspense which we don’t see very often anymore. Particularly the scenes within the large mansion, we are literally entered into this ghostly world that keeps a firm hold on us! He even makes various artefacts in houses scary to even look at in the film, such as the rocking chair and the bed. So, making objects scary is odd but it is saying something! Screenwriter Jane Goldman has spent her career writing with mostly Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass, The Debt and Stardust), but now she writes a script alone for the first time. Having served as a great screenwriting partner for Vaughn, she proves that she can write her own scripts too.
Overall, The Woman In Black is an intense, nail-biting ride that provides all what it is meant to: terrify its audiences and make them jump! Daniel Radcliffe suited the horror genre and was very good, but to avoid not always been referred to as Harry Potter, he’ll have to collaborate with an even stronger director, a more creative script and more solid character. Many horrors are displayed as something that’s disturbing enough to lead to nightmares but regarding The Woman In Black, it’s a film that one can enjoy because it’s scary to watch!