It's the turn of the 1900's and Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a struggling widower/father whose job is on the line for one sole assignment. It is his duty as a solicitor to go through the belongings and paperwork of the late Alice Drablow, owner of the Eel Marsh House. Though none of the town's locals will explain why they're unfriendly to outsiders, he quickly finds out the expansive power of the haunting by the woman in black.
I understood what they were going for with the sharp silence through many of the tense scenes, but it came off just monotonous and boring. A well placed insidious toned score really would have helped these scenes out. This is completely secondary to the film's main problem however. This is a ninety minute film, and for the first sixty minutes nothing happens. Arthur Kipps doesn't even know the Eel Marsh House is haunted until the final third of the movie. Some may defend this as "well, you know, three-act story, blah blah blah," but there's nothing going on in the first two acts! Some minor things happen to move the plot forward, but Arthur Kipps doesn't question it or find it strange at all because it all comes off coincidental. All this film needed other than some actual haunting in the first hour of the film, is for one of the locals to clue Kipps in so at least he can call them crazy and act sure there's no such things as ghosts until he's proven wrong.
The fire and any of the automatic writing scenes.
While beautifully shot, I was genuinely disappointed by this film. I wanted to see it a great deal when it first came out, and I thought the ninety minute run-time would be the perfect fit for a haunted house film. I especially wanted to see what Daniel Radcliffe was capable playing something other than an angsty wizard, but he doesn't get to show off much as a chronically depressed (no vices, no alcoholism, nothing) broke single father. The acting in the film is carried by Ciaran Hinds, playing Sam Daily, the sole friendly local to Arthur Kipps. Basically, this film became a chore to sit through and the last third of the film wasn't strong enough to justify the boredom of the first two-thirds. Overall rating...
2 / 5
When You Should See It:
You shouldn't. It's not worth the time. If it's on television and you see there's only a half an hour left to it, then I guess you could turn it on. You wouldn't have missed much.
image from Amazon