Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Woman In Black

The other day, I went to see the Victorian horror flick "The Woman In Black."  While it was an effectively creepy story and setting, I found myself feeling ... underwhelmed.  I'm not sure what I was expecting--and I'm not sure why I was expecting anything more than a creepy, jump-filled haunted house story.  I certainly jumped plenty of times, whisper-hissing "shut up!" to my sister each time she laughed at me.  I lost count of how many times faces (or other startling images) appeared in previously empty spaces.  Still, those jumps didn't end up adding up to much.

I do think Daniel Radcliffe acquitted himself quite nicely.  His character's motivations were always clear and relatable, he interacted well with everyone with whom he shared the screen, and his scenes of growing fear and tension worked really, really well.  I admit, I was not all that impressed with his early career but I think he's grown a lot, and I wish him well.  I hope he's able to distinguish himself from Harry Potter.  This film is a good step.

Despite the strength of its lead's performance, however, the film was really quite slight.  The film began to explore some interesting ideas--particularly in its dealings with Mr. Daily, Mrs. Daily, and Arthur and how they each dealt with their grief in personal, tragic ways.  Mr. Daily rejecting the supernatural outright, insisting later that it helped him to believe his son was happy and safe in heaven.  Mrs. Daily clinging to her "twins," the tiny puppies she so clearly took in as surrogate children.  Arthur's growing interest in spiritualism and the occult as a way to stay connected to his late wife.  Each of these could have helped build more weight into the film, but each was only touched on.

Despite its lean middle, I was satisfied with the ending of the film.  It seemed to fit with what we know of all the characters.  I'm not one to spoil, but an ending that leaves a few questions unanswered is rarely a bad thing, especially in a horror movie.

As is my way, I spent part of the evening after watching the movie researching it.  I knew that it was based on a novel and that that novel had also been adapted to a play.  I discovered the differences between the movie and the book, especially in the way each ended, but haven't decided which I find more effective.  I read about the stage play--a two-man show with a minimalist set seemed to match the slight feel of the story, and everything I've read about the staging sounds delightfully creepy.

All in all, The Woman in Black left me with a few thoughts, but none greater than this: I would love to see (or even stage) that play.