Film review | Radcliffe’s first grown-up film a major letdown

Michael Todd
Staff Writer

Radcliffe's role as a legal clerk-turned-paranormal investigator in “The Woman in Black” is his first film role since the debut of the “Harry Potter” series.

In “The Woman in Black,” former “Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe successfully makes the jump from a world of spells and wizards – and into the world of disappointing horror movies.

In this remake of a made-for-TV film from 1989, Radcliffe plays widower Arthur Kipps, who is sent to sort through the haphazardly-stored legal documents of a recently deceased widow. He travels to a remote English village populated with anxious residents who are strangely hesitant to assist him with his tasks.

As Kipps digs deeper into the mysteries of the village and the house he investigates, he begins to encounter the image of a fearful woman in black – a vengeful ghost terrorizing the town and targeting its children.

Stills courtesy of The UK Film Council

A conventional ghost story with an equally conventional (and flimsy) plot unfolds. No questions are left unanswered by the time the closing credits roll: nothing from the setting to the characters’ motives to the denouement and finale are left for the audience to ponder or interpret on their own.

With weak foundations in the element of surprise, the movie relies almost entirely on loud noises and things jumping suddenly out of nowhere at predictably quiet, tense moments to rouse screams out of easily startled theatergoers.

Radcliffe’s acting, albeit reminiscent of his wizard-hero doppelganger near the movie’s climax and decline, seemed appropriately up to par despite the overall lackluster quality of the film. A majority of his performance, however, remained static and required only Radcliffe’s ability to appear apprehensive, inquisitive or tortured at any one point during any scene.

For those looking for Radcliffe to make a smooth transition into his post-Potter career, the overall success of the actor is debatable. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for “The Woman in Black.”

 

2/5 stars

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