The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black

Daniel Radcliffe discovers that black is the new acccccck!!!!!

(2012) Supernatural Horror (CBS) Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Liz White, Janet McTeer, Alisa Khazanova, Tim McMullan, Roger Allam, David Burke, Shaun Dooley, Mary Stockley, Cathy Sara, David Burke, Victor McGuire, Jessica Raine, Sophie Stuckey. Directed by James Watkins


Rage and insanity don’t mix well. Give someone already unbalanced a reason to hate and the consequences can be dire indeed.

Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is a man who doesn’t smile very much. His wife (Stuckey) died in childbirth four years earlier and he’d been in a funk ever since. Mr. Bentley (Allam), Arthur’s boss at the law firm that he works at, makes no bones about it; he needs to turn things around immediately and this next assignment will be his last if he doesn’t get it right.

This assignment is to go to a far-off village on England’s coastal marshland to sort through the papers of a recently deceased client. It will mean leaving his four-year-old son with the nanny (Raine) but he must do what he must do – there are already overdue bills he must attend to.

When he reaches the town he is met there with suspicious and downright hostile town folk with the exception of Sam Daily (Hinds) who is the richest man in town and offers Arthur a ride to the town’s only inn. As it is pouring down cats and dogs Arthur is only too happy to accept.

At the end the innkeeper (Dooley) denies he has a reservation and is eager to throw him out into the pouring rain but his wife (Stockley) is kinder, putting him up in the attic…the same attic from where her three children leaped to their deaths not long ago.

Few will take him to Eel Marsh House, the home where his client lived and died….and where a mountain of papers await him. And there are good reasons for it as well. For one, it sits on an island that can only be reached via causeway, a causeway that floods when the tide is in. Second, the house is overgrown, musty and spooky – the nearly perfect haunted house.

And like most perfect haunted houses, it comes with a ghost, a mysterious woman in black. She’s not Casper the Friendly Ghost though; when people see her, children in the village die. This explains their hostility towards him.

But why is she killing innocents? Why would she possibly want the children to die? Arthur has a personal stake in finding the answers; his own son is coming to town in just a few days for a visit and could be the next victim of the Woman in Black.

Watkins creates a really strange vibe here, kind of a cross between Jane Eyre and The Haunting. There’s a gothic element that comes out rather nicely. This is based on a novel by Sue Mills and was made into a British telefilm in 1989.

Radcliffe is making his first post-Potter appearance here and it is a very different role for him. The general complaint is that at 22, he seems a little old to be playing a widower and the father of a 4-year-old, but in the era that is depicted here they married younger. He does very well as a man who has been devastated and not quite recovered. As you might imagine a man in his situation would, Arthur is emotionally tight-lipped and Radcliffe captures that nicely.

Hinds is one of the more underrated character actors out there and he’s in top form here. McTeer, who plays his wife, is an outstanding actress who is up for an Oscar for Albert Nobbs and she has a juicy role as a woman who has been driven around the bend by the death of her child.

The atmosphere here is genuinely spooky which is all-important for a haunted house ghost story. The scares when they come are legitimately nightmare-inducing and may not be for the more sensitive Potter fans in the household who will surely be going out to see this in droves the first weekend.

Some of the story bogged down in places and to be honest, there is no new ground broken here. There are the old hoary horror clichés of the paranoid townspeople and the family graveyard where the spectres hang out but they don’t detract from what is a classic story told in an effective manner. I liked the ending which was a bit different – think Gladiator. I myself am fond of the haunted house movie and can’t get enough of them when they’re good, and The Woman in Black is most assuredly a good one. Well worth your time if you, like me, love a good scare

REASONS TO GO: Very atmospheric. Radcliffe acquits himself well. Some genuinely awesome scares. The ending works well.

REASONS TO STAY: A bit muddled in places story-wise A few horror clichés worked their way in.

FAMILY VALUES: There are some disturbing images, a little bit of violence and a few pretty good shock scares.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Adrian Rawlins, who played Harry Potter’s dad James Potter in the movie series, played the same role Daniel Radcliffe is playing here in the 1989 version of the movie.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/10/12: Rotten Tomatoes: 65% positive reviews. Metacritic: 62/100. The reviews are solidly positive.


RURAL ENGLAND LOVERS: Some beautiful shots of the misty English countryside and the bucolic villages therein.




Four-Warned: February 2012

February 2012

Every month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.
The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

1. THE VOW (1.4)
3. CHRONICLE (1.6)

1. THE FAIRY (1.5)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

FEBRUARY 3, 2012

BIG MIRACLE (Universal) Genre: Family. An Alaskan town races to save a family of whales trapped by the ice. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 On paper sounds maudlin but the trailer looks very good and John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore look like a great team.
CHRONICLE (20th Century Fox) Genre: Science Fiction. Three high school kids make a startling discovery that leads to them developing superpowers and with great power comes great…ego. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.6. Uses the conceit that the kids capture their power growth on video; yeah, the next superhero shows up on YouTube.
THE INNKEEPERS (Magnet) Genre: Supernatural Horror. As a 100-year-old inn prepares to close, two of their employees attempt to prove it’s one of the most haunted hotels in New England; and they’re wicked right. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 An intriguing premise and haunted house stories usually pique my interest but the trailer didn’t really grab me.
KILL LIST (IFC) Genre: Thriller. A hitman going for a big score on three related hits slowly begins to unravel. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Could be really good but trailer looks a bit too low-key.
SPLINTERS (SnagFilms) Genre: Documentary. How a surfboard left behind in a remote village in Papua New Guinea led to a rise in indigenous surfing. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles February 17th). RATING: 3.1 I’m still not sure how inspiring this is but it does look potentially fascinating.
W.E. (Weinstein) Genre: Romance. A modern New York City woman who idolizes Wallis Simpson, whose love inspired King Edward VII of Great Britain to abdicate his throne, finds out the ultimate love story was rockier than she thought. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.5 I like the premise but from the trailer I think the movie might have been miscast.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK (CBS) Genre: Supernatural Horror. A young lawyer in the 19th century gone to wrap up a deceased client’s affairs ends up embroiled in a supernatural mystery. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.7 Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Potter project looks to be scary as all get out.

FEBRUARY 8, 2012

THE MINERS’ HYMNS (Icarus) Genre: Documentary. Archival footage of British miners is set to stark, stirring music by composer Johann Johannsson. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.3 I’m kind of on the fence about this one; could be amazing, could be pointless.

FEBRUARY 10, 2012

CHICO AND RITA (GKIDS) Genre: Animated Feature. A pianist and a singer in 1948 Cuba find solace from their turbulent relationship in jazz. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Very stylized animation, not necessarily my cup of tea – but the movie looks oddly intriguing.
IN DARKNESS (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. A sewer worker in Nazi-occupied Poland encounters Jewish refugees in the sewers; what started as a cynical business arrangement becomes an inspiring fight for survival. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.2 The trailer does not help the cause of this film.
JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (New Line) Genre: Family Adventure. The young teen who previously journeyed to the center of the earth to find his dad recruits his step-dad to help him find his grandfather. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX). RATING: 2.9 This family sure needs to put locators on their members – but the Rock is in this so it’s all good.
KUNG FU JOE (Indican) Genre: Spoof. An unjustly convicted special forces commando hunted by the government turned private eye turns his martial arts skills on a gang of bizarre individuals intent on world domination through doughnuts. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.8 The trailer was…not inspiring, grasshopper.
PERFECT SENSE (IFC) Genre: Thriller. An epidemiologist struggles with a strange disease that affects emotions and then the senses as well as a love affair. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Sounds a bit like Blindness only on a bigger scale.
RAMPART (Millennium) Genre: Crime Drama. A brutal, homophobic, racist, misogynist cop sees his life begin to unravel after a corruption scandal rocks the LAPD. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Woody Harrelson looks to be delivering a career-best performance here.
RETURN (Dada) Genre: Drama. A female soldier experiences disassociation upon returning home from her tour of duty. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Most “returning home from war” films revolve around male soldiers; this should be interesting viewing.
SAFE HOUSE (Universal) Genre: Thriller. A CIA safe house operative becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse when the most notorious turncoat in Agency history becomes his house guest. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 Here is a part tailor-made for Denzel Washington; looks like one of February’s keepers.
STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE 3D (20th Century Fox) Genre: Science Fiction. The Star Wars saga gets the 3D upgrade treatment as the first of the six films is released in sequential order. Release Strategy: Wide (3D). RATING: 4.0 The worst of the Star Wars films and there is simply no way I would pay an upcharge to see it again.
THE TURIN HORSE (The Cinema Guild) Genre: Drama. When Nietzsche saves a dray horse from being cruelly beaten, it sets into motion the Apocalypse. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.5 Said to be the last film of influential Hungarian director Bela Tarr, the movie is shot in only 30 long takes. No teenager will ever be able to sit through this movie.
THE VOW (Screen Gems) Genre: Romance. When a car accident causes a woman to lose all her memory from the past five years, her new husband sets out to get her to fall in love with him all over again. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 Based on a true story, this one is going to get women all over the world turning to their mates, smacking them on the shoulder and bemoaning “Why can’t you be like him”?!

FEBRUARY 14, 2012

ALL THINGS FALL APART (Image) Genre: Sports Drama. A star football player copes with the stresses of family, relationships and a deadly disease. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Has a kind of direct-to-cable movie of the week quality in the trailer; its already been broadcast on BET.
BUZZKILL (Indiecan) Genre: Comedy. A struggling writer finds fame when a serial killer steals his car with his latest book in it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.7 Looks unfunny and somewhat depressing – and not in a good way.
THIS MEANS WAR (20th Century Fox) Genre: Action Comedy. Two expert spies begin an escalating conflict over the same woman. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 I suppose I’d go to war over Reese Witherspoon myself.

FEBRUARY 15, 2012

MICHAEL (Strand) Genre: Psychological Thriller. A mild-mannered insurance agent is hiding a 10-year-old boy in his basement. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks incredibly disturbing judging by the trailer.

FEBRUARY 16, 2012

RE: GENERATION MUSIC PROJECT (D&E Entertainment) Genre: Musical Documentary. Five DJs look to remix music alien to their way of thinking and create a new kind of hybrid. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Remix is an art form that has never connected with me.

FEBRUARY 17, 2012

BULLHEAD (Drafthouse) Genre: Crime Drama. A cattle farmer with ties to organized crime comes face to face with the consequences of his decisions. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 I never knew there was a bovine steroids mafia but now I do.
CIRCUS COLUMBIA (Strand) Genre: Drama. An exiled Bosnian returns to his native land on the eve of the Bosnian War, only to discover it was not the land he left. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 The trailer had laughs, pathos and a serious examination of the Thomas Hardy equation – is it true that you can never go home again.
GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE (Columbia) Genre: Comic Book Superhero. Johnny Blaze comes out of hiding to save a child who might be the next Antichrist. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.5 I thought the first movie was a bit underrated; this one looks better.
ON THE ICE (PMK*BNC) Genre: Suspense. An argument between three Inuit boys leads to tragedy, deceit and upheaval. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks a little teen angst-y but still could be a very strong film.
THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (Disney) Genre: Anime. A family of tiny people living under the floorboards are discovered by humans. Based on the classic children’s book The Borrowers. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.4 The latest from Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli isn’t exciting me as their movies usually do.
THIN ICE (ATO) Genre: Thriller. A Midwestern insurance agent gets caught up in a scam for which the stakes continue to escalate. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Looks like a cross between Fargo and Killshot.
UNDEFEATED (Weinstein) Genre: Documentary. The 2009 Manassas HS Tigers of Memphis attempt to go from laughing stocks to an undefeated season for the first time in school history. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Hasn’t gotten a lot of press but the trailer looks impressive.

FEBRUARY 24, 2012

ACT OF VALOR (Relativity) Genre: Action. A team of Navy SEALs race against time to prevent a terrorist attack on American soil. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.2 Using active duty SEALs as actors in the cast seems a trifle gimmicky but if done right could be fascinating.
THE FAIRY (Kino Lorber) Genre: Comic Fantasy. A young man working the night shift is visited by a young woman claiming to be a fairy who grants him two wishes. When she disappears, the love-struck man decides to go and find her. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.5 Looks droll but charming, a cross between Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton.
THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD (Sundance Selects) Genre: Drama. An Albanian family is caught up in a blood feud, forcing a clash between ancient traditions and modern law. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.8 Terrific concept, looks like it could be an amazing film.
GONE (Summit) Genre: Thriller. A young woman who escaped a serial killer a year discovers her sister has been kidnapped by the same killer which the police don’t believe; she will have to rescue her sister herself. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.9 Amanda Seyfried in what looks to be a version of Kiss the Girls.
HIPSTERS (Leisure Time) Genre: Musical. A disaffected Moscow youth circa 1955 discovers American-influenced jazz in the underground clubs of Soviet Russia. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.9 Highly stylized, sort of like a Russian Glee.
JODI BREAKERS (Yash Raj) Genre: Bollywood. A man who specializes in breaking up bad romances falls in love. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.3 Like many Bollywood extravaganzas, combines romance with music and plenty of cheese on the side.
TYLER PERRY’S GOOD DEEDS (Lionsgate) Genre: Urban Romance. A scion of a wealthy family who always did what was expected of him breaks ranks to help a single homeless mom. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.9 Tyler Perry is really good at what he does – but I just haven’t been able to connect to any of his films as of yet.
WANDERLUST (Universal) Genre: Comedy. A new Judd Apatow comedy about a well-off couple that is forced to relocate after being downsized and win up at a commune. Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.6 Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd make a charming couple.

FEBRUARY 29, 2012

THIS IS NOT A FILM (Palisades Tartan) Genre: Documentary. An Iranian director, confined to house arrest and banned from making films, documents waiting in his apartment while awaiting word on the appeal of his sentence. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 3.4 The raw footage was taken on a cell phone and digital video camera which were smuggled from Teheran to Paris in a cake.

Big Miracle, Chronicle, W.E., Journey 2: Mysterious Island, Safe House, Undefeated, The Vow, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, This Means War, Act of Valor, Gone, Wanderlust

New Releases for the Week of February 3, 2012

February 3, 2012


(20th Century Fox) Dave DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Bo Petersen, Anna Wood, Rudi Malcolm, Luke Tyler, Crystal-Donna Roberts. Directed by Joshua Trank

A group of three high school buddies, as modern high school kids will, set out to document every little thing they do on video. This includes the discovery of something phenomenal – something that gives them amazing, incredible powers. At first this is just super-cool. I mean, like, they pwn the world, dude. But like middle-aged movie critics who try to sound young and hip, things go bad. The old saying of absolute power corrupts absolutely apparently isn’t in the curriculum at their high school because slowly it does things to their heads as well.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: PG-13 (for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking)

Big Miracle

(Universal) Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kirsten Bell, Ted Danson. Based on a true story, this is about how rival superpowers put aside their differences to free a family of trapped gray whales near the tiny town of Point Barrow, Alaska. The essentials really took place in 1988 in an effort that was nicknamed Operation Breakthrough.

See the trailer, clips, featurettes, an interview and web-only content here.

For more on the movie this is the website

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Family

Rating: PG (for language)

The Woman in Black

(CBS) Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Roger Allam.  Radcliffe begins his post-Potter career with a spooky period horror film. Here he plays a 19th century lawyer gone to settle a late client’s affairs and must journey to the home of the client to go through his papers. While there, strange occurrences and visions of a woman clothed all in black makes him uneasy, a situation not improved by the tight-lipped locals. Working to discover the truth to the tragic circumstances of the woman, he finds himself caught in a terrifying situation when he discovers what her intentions really are.

See the trailer, promos and featurettes here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Supernatural Horror

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic material and violence/disturbing images)