31 horror movies in 31 days: The Woman In Black

Unknown-2   I was hesitant to see this movie because it stars Daniel Radcliffe, whom I’m not a big fan of. The idea of Harry Potter dumped in the middle of a horror flick just sounded…weird. Eventually Little Woman convinced me to sit down and watch it. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

The now-very-mature looking Daniel Radcliffe is Arthur Kipps, a lawyer who is mourning the death of his wife, who passed away during childbirth. Years later, he still struggles with grief, doing the best he can as a single dad, yet his work at the law firm has deteriorated. His boss gives him one more chance to save his career by sending him out to the Eel Marsh House, a remote mansion owned by the now deceased Mrs. Drablow. He is told to get her paperwork in order and return to London post haste.

On the train, Arthur meets Mr. Daily, who offers him a ride to the local lodge and invites him to dinner at his house the next day. The Innkeeper is curt with Arthur, telling him there are no rooms available and urges him to go back to London. The Innkeeper’s wife tells him the only room available is in the attic – the same room where 3 young girls had committed suicide.

The next day while walking around town, he notices all the residence seem off-put with him being there, quickly shuffling their children from outside into their houses. After arriving at the eerily dark Eel Marsh house, Arthur begins shuffling through Mrs. Drablow’s paperwork, he comes across a stack of old birthday cards and newspaper clippings about a 7-year-old boy that drowned in the marsh just outside the mansion. The body was never recovered.

While walking around the house, he enters what looks like a small child’s bedroom. While looking out the window, he sees a woman in a black dress looking back up at him from the cemetery on the property. He runs out to investigate, but doesn’t find the woman…until he sees her looking down on him from the upstairs bedroom window. Moments later he begins hearing phantom noises of what sounds like a carriage accident and a woman screaming.

While having dinner with the Daily’s, Arthur meets Mrs. Daily, who never got over the death of their son, who had drowned. During dinner she seems to fall into a possessed-like state and begins carving a picture in the dining room table. The house staff quickly sedates her. On the way back to the Mansion, the townspeople tell Arthur he’s not welcome anymore, and blame him for the rash of local children that are quickly dying off.

That night, as he continues to shuffle through Mrs. Drablow’s paperwork, he finds a letter written to Mrs. Drablow from her sister, Jennet. Apparently Jennet was deemed “mentally unfit” as a mother, which led to Nathaniel being taken away and adopted by the Drablows. Shortly after, Nathaniel dies in the marsh outside. Arthur finds the death certificate to confirm. In the letter Jennet tells Mrs. Drablow, who survived the accident, that she will never forgive her for not pulling Nathaniel’s body from the marsh and properly burying his body. After having her own child taken, she vows to take the souls of others.

Arthur begins seeing apparitions, hearing mysterious sounds throughout the house and sees the figures of all the dead towns children in the cemetery. After hearing noises in the child’s bedroom, he runs in and sees the body of Jennet, hanging from the rafters. On the wall, he sees the words “You could have saved him” written in blood. After putting 2 and 2 together, he realizes what needs to be done to put Jennet at peace. With the help of Mr. Daily, they pull the body of Nathaniel out of the marsh. Arthur wraps the corpse up and lays it on his toddler bed, hoping to attract Jennet. They then put the corpse inside Jennet’s casket, convinced that this would be closure.

But of course it not…..

I’m not going to spoil the end, but I will say what happens is quite unexpected.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommendation: I was very impressed with this film, specifically Daniel Radcliffe’s performance. This was quite a different role for him, and he pulled it off successfully. I now see him outside of the Harry Potter mold and becoming more of a versatile leading man. The film was filled with the typical scary thumps, screams and jumping apparitions that makes a good horror flick, but what really keeps you hooked is the progressive story line, which is perfectly timed out. The grey, drab exterior of this small English town is fitting, as is the thick atmosphere inside the Mansion, which reeks with tortured souls and death. The story of a woman whose child was taken from her and eventually dies is just heartbreaking. The term ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ has never been truer.

 

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