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02/06/2012 17:59 | By Neil Smith, contributor, MSN Movies

The Woman in Black – movie review

Daniel Radcliffe swaps Hogwarts for a haunted house in this old-school horror. Bet he wishes he still had his wand.


The Woman In Black (© Rex)

Release date: 10 February 2012
Certificate: 12A
Director: James Watkins
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer

What's the story? A young solicitor travels to a remote village to settle a dead woman's affairs. There he comes to suspect a vengeful ghost has sinister designs on him and his child.

What did we think? Daniel Radcliffe's first post-Harry vehicle sees him venturing into unfamiliar territory that won't please all the fans he made as J K Rowling's teen wizard. As old-fashioned as it is, though, this well-mounted period piece remains a satisfying chiller with plenty of scares to send a shiver down your spine.


When we last saw Daniel Radcliffe at the end of the last Potter movie, he was a grown man with a young son. Which is pretty much how we find him in James Watkins' The Woman in Black, his lawyer Arthur Kipps having been left with a boy by the death of his beloved wife in childbirth.

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Thanks to the titular spirit, a vindictive spook who kills every time she's seen, the late Mrs Kipps might soon have some company in the afterlife. Indeed, if there's one thing that makes this adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 ghost story seem just as spooky as the long-running West End stage version it also inspired, it's the irrational, unquenchable blood-lust of its eponymous character, a spectre at the feast who remains hungry even after Arthur and his local contact (Ciaran Hinds) go to considerable lengths to placate her.

Okay, so Daniel is still too fresh-faced to persuade as a grieving widower with a four-year-old at home, let alone one with stubble and mutton-chop sideburns. Yet he brings enough conviction, commitment and wide-eyed terror to his somewhat stock character to suggest he won't need magic spells to conjure up decent adult roles in future.

Three stars

Verdict: Scary Movie.

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