Stuck Up Cinema – The Woman in Black

Movie: The Woman in Black
Released: 2012
Directed by: James Watkins

Horror hasn’t been too successful recently. That’s pretty much a no-brainer at this point though. One thing we all take for granted though is how hard it is to actually be scared at this point. We’ve seen a lot of things in our lives and it’s very rare for us to see something new that actually terrifies us. We’ve seen ghost stories, we’ve seen slasher movies, we’ve seen some of the most disturbing stuff ever and because of all the old it’s very damn hard to find something new. On the flip side of this there isn’t much that mainstream movies are doing to try and create something new. They rely on the same old tricks and very little is done to try any new tricks to scare the audience.

Who isn’t tired of jump scares at this point? Sure, they can be scary, but if you’re sitting in a food court eating a sandwich when somebody suddenly jumps in front of you and screams you’ll get scared. It’s cheap; it’s not real horror. Loud noises and sudden movement has a good chance of being scary but it’s all at face value, there’s no real weight to the fear behind it. Basically, jump scares suck. They are just the cancer that rips through horror movies and they need to go away and die.

Today, for Stuck Up Cinema I’ll be talking about the recent horror movie The Woman in Black. Does it break through the tumour that is jump scares or does it fester in its pit of disgusting filth. Read on, beyond the cut, to find out.

Yes, Harry, there aren’t any ghosts here.

The Woman in Black is a classic ghost story that stars the likes of Daniel Radcliffe. The movie doesn’t have a lot in terms of gore or violence or anything like that and relies much more on the tension and atmosphere. Already, from initial expectations, I’m more optimistic for The Woman in Black than I would be for most other horror movie releases. The idea of a movie that sits itself deep in the sludge of atmosphere, mood and pacing is a rare thing; especially for horror, where atmosphere is probably the most important aspect.

The movie follows Radcliffe staying at a town to go through some paperwork of a recently deceased woman. The town is not very happy to have him around and we soon find out it’s about a ghostly woman who inhabits the house he is at that causes children of the town to violently kill themselves. And by violent, I mean violent. It’s shocking how many children have gruesome deaths in this movie. If all is said and done and that’s all this movie has going for it, it won’t be a bad thing to be known as the movie with a bunch of suicidal children. He stays at the house, things get worse and worse and then the movie climaxes and then it’s over. Standard movie stuff, but how is the journey getting there?

Unfortunately The Woman in Black meanders along at a snail’s pace throughout and has no real cinematic build to anything too exciting. The movie is just way too bland and unoriginal that there really isn’t anything to it to make it anything worth talking about. Also to add a double whammy to the unfortunateness of this all, it relies heavily, heavily on jump scares. And, as mentioned above, jump scares are the worst thing to happen to horror movies. Maybe once or twice I can accept them and, hell, even be affected by them, but if it’s a movie filled with them and you can just see them coming from a mile away then they are simply NOT scary. End of story, no if’s, and’s or but’s.

I swear I heard a jump scare around here.

Before I dive in and talk about my disappointment with the film, I’ll talk a bit about the big aspect I liked. This was a very good ghost story. I loved the story behind it and it was the main reason I continued to watch. When the plot started involving and the truth behind the woman (in black) unfolded I was genuinely interested in the backstory behind it. It was rich, unsettling and it just had that good old fashioned creepy vibe that I miss in ghost stories. Now, back to the not-so-successful aspects.

The movie is boring. There’s no other way to put it other than this film is just really boring. It’s blunt, and unfortunate, but it’s also very true. As mentioned all of the tense moments build to a cliche and that just isn’t fun cinema. The uniqueness ends at the story of the woman (in black) and everything that does happen in the town is just pointless. You want to feel for what’s happening but you really can’t because the film isn’t successful at making you feel like you should care. It’s watching Daniel Radcliffe solve a mystery and then see shadows out of the corner of his eye. That’s it, that’s The Woman in Black.

Radcliffe himself does well enough, I suppose, and it’s unfortunate that he has to fight agains the image of being just Harry Potter, and a film like this is a good step, but at this point it’s not good enough. The music in this film is also very… unappealing as it’s nothing more than DUN-DUN every time something scary happens. That’s right, the cliche is pushed further with the jump scares by every jump scare being accompanied by the oh-so-classic DUN-DUN. DUN-DUN. DUN-DUN. It’s all you’re going to end up hearing and remembering. If there was any other music in the movie I would have absolutely NO IDEA.

Overall the movie is average. It’s not bad, by any means, it’s a well made movie from the looks of it and nothing comes off as poorly made or as a ‘b-movie’, but the movie isn’t anything new or exciting enough to be described as good. Average is legitimately the best way to describe this movie. If you can honestly describe a movie as boring then you know the experience you had in it wasn’t a good one. There really isn’t much more to it than that. If you’re the type of guy who tries to use scary movies to get a girl you’re in to jump into your arms The Woman in Black isn’t the one for you. That’s just the advice from one bro to another. Who am I kidding, I’m not a bro.

The Woman in Black: 5/10 [DUN-DUN!]

“I haaaate jump scares!”

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