You know, as much as I love Hammer horror movies, and Hammer films in general, it took me quite awhile to realize that they had reformed and were putting out movies again after a 30 year period of inactivity. I guess it’s because for a couple of years there I had pretty much buried my head in the sand was only really watching movies that were at least 20 years old, adamantly refusing to even give anything new a passing glance. Ah yes, the life of a grumpy nerd. This was a huge oversight on my part since more recent movies hold their treasures as well and thus I pulled my ass off of the couch and took it to the theater again to be entertained by CGI blood, shaky camera work, and Paranormal Activities. Except I hate all of that shit. Oh well, Woman in Black at least looked a bit interesting. Besides being released partially by the revamped Hammer Studios, it also stars Daniel Radcliffe fresh off of his decade long stint as a certain teenage wizard with the most wiz. Plus it was on TV so I didn’t have to pay a bloody dime for it. I still feel ripped off…
Daniel Radcliffe is sad. He is sad because his wife has died and his job sucks. He works as the legal branch of some real estate company and now he has to head out to the ass end of British nowhere to an old house in the middle of a marsh to get some paperwork together so his company can sell a house. A horror movie based around paperwork? Like Eye of the Demon, this movie couldn’t be anymore British if it tried.
Blah blah blah ghosts, blah blah blah dead kids, blah blah blah Daniel Radcliffe walking around a spooky old house with a candle looking at stuff. Blah blah blah why should I give a shit? The protagonist of this thing is one of the flattest most uninteresting characters I’ve ever seen. Radcliffe is a decent actor but there’s just nothing to his role besides being the Victorian era version of a sad emo. Large chunks of this movie just don’t work because why should we care if this dude lives or dies if he’s about as interesting as an insurance seminar? The supporting cast is just as poorly written. Ciarán Hinds (another Harry Potter alum) is pretty much just there to just gawk at things stupidly and help Radcliffe out of jams when the script calls for it and Janet McTeer is pretty much just there to act nuts. Jesus. Why not just cut human figures out of some plywood and prop them up in front of the sets? it would have the same fucking effect.
Compounding the problem of the impossibly underwritten characters is the muddled story and about 50 billion jump scares that aren’t the least bit shocking or scary at all. To put it bluntly: this movie is a complete and utter dud.
But then…it actually works for a bit. Seriously! There’s a moment towards the end where Radcliffe has to dig a corpse out of a marsh and it actually has an intensity and tension that was totally missing from the previous hour and 30 minutes of film! I have no idea how this happened but for about 15 minutes the movie was actually good…and then it blew it because the ending is stupid and terrible.
Bleck! I am bored and unfulfilled, movie! I was promised good old-fashioned creepiness but all I got was a big bowl of creamy nothing! (which tastes oddly like creamed corn).
I will give the movie this though: It looks fucking awesome. I give the set designers huge props because they did their job incredibly well. All of the Victorian era settings are well realized and detailed so it looks like an actual world that people could live in. It’s sad they couldn’t have much of anything interesting happen in front of those sets!
Another thing I loved was all of the genuine antique dolls and toys that they managed to wrangle up from somewhere which are honestly some of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen. Those goddamn mechanical monkeys! *brrr.* They are much more frightening than the stupid ghost lady or the dead kids or all of the crappy jump scares. They’re in the wrong fucking movie!
Verdict: An attempt to make an “old-fashioned” scary movie that totally forgot why those movies worked in the first place and also forgot to be interesting or any goddamn fun at all. Not worth your time. Go watch Hammer’s Dracula or Frankenstein films instead. Even the worst ones are still pretty enjoyable.
A Random Thing
- My taste in movies must be different from most people’s because the general consensus seems to be that this film is awesome and it made a ton of money so a sequel is currently in the works. I’m betting that a lot of that is because Daniel Radcliffe was in it though. Otherwise it would have been thrown in the trash bin pretty fucking quick.
- Parents were pissed off because they took their kids to see this movie because Harry Potter was in it and then it was all glum and sad and in the first five minutes a bunch of kids commit suicide. Hah! Sucked in!
- I totally need a room full of creepy antique dolls and toys. Then when I have kids I can keep them in line by telling them they’ll have to sleep in the “scary” room if they’re bad. I’m going to be an awesome parent.