The Woman in Black (12A)
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
April 25, 2012
Director: James Watkins
Running Time: 95 mins
With a screenplay by Jane Goldman and based on Susan Hill’s 1982 novella, James Watkin’s The Woman in Black is the latest offering from Hammer (in collaboration with Alliance Films) and is perhaps best described as part Edgar Allen Poe, part Stephen King.
Arthur Kipps, a young Edwardian solicitor played by Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliff, is a haunted man; haunted by the death of his first wife Stella (Sophie Stucky) who died giving birth to his only child, Joseph (Misha Handley), haunted by a series of child deaths that take place in the quite rural village where he has come to organise the papers of the deceased Alice Drablow; and haunted by the mysterious woman in black.
From early on in the film when his employer advises him, “Don’t go chasing shadows, Arthur”, you know that is exactly what Kipps is going to do. Yes, there an element of predictability about The Woman in Black and Radcliff more often than not sports just the one expression (sombre), the tension was electric with gasps, squeals and giggles from the audience as Kipps creeps around Eel March House (a stereotypical haunted house), axe in hand, trying to uncover the story of its former inhabitants and discover the reason why the villagers have given him a less than hospitable welcome. Although the film is not completely loyal to Hill’s book, particularly in its finale, there is an element of suspense running throughout as you wait in anxious anticipation for those ‘shadows’ to appear.
And, there is nowhere better to experience the suspense of a thriller-horror than in the art deco surroundings of the Liverpool Philharmonic, which was showing The Woman in Black as part of its 2012 film season (other films to watch out for include George Clooney in The Descendents (15) on May 16, multi-award-winning The Artist (PG) on May 22, and the 1942 classic Casablanca (U) on July 23).
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