Saturday, November 8, 2014

Black and White

In my search for a scary movie for Ms. Spenser, I queued up The Woman in Black (2012). I knew very little about it, other than it was a the first new Hammer Horror film since forever, and it was Daniel Radcliffe's first big post-Harry Potter role.

It was also the first film I picked that really scared Ms. S.

Radcliffe plays a solicitor with a young son, a dead wife and many unpaid bills. We first meet him holding a razor to his throat. I was never sure about how good an actor he was when he was playing a young wizard, but the look in his eyes as he gazes into the mirror in this scene really says something.

His job requires him to go to a village to settle a will by selling an old creepy mansion. His boss lets him know that if he can't close this deal, he is out of a job - a bit of a callback to Drag Me to Hell. The villagers are not friendly, but they have an excuse: The village children keep killing themselves in rather horrible ways.

The film combines slow, gripping horror and jump scares with more subtle tingles, like ghosts seen over a character's shoulder that disappear in the next shot. The atmosphere is wonderfully dismal. There are white-out fogs on the marsh, lonesome graveyards, horsemen out in the mist, old letters with horrible secrets, and of course, a woman in black - and even one in white.

Since we haven't seen any - any - of the old Hammer Horrors, we can't say how this fits into the oeuvre, but it certainly hit the spot for us. Truly chilling.

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