Hammer Films appears to be reinventing itself (check out Wakewood and The Resident here) while returning to likeable form with its latest ghost story offering The Woman in Black...
Mr. Kipp is assigned to handle the estate of Alice Drablow who owned Eel Marsh. The longer he stays on at Drablow estate the more horror he witnesses which pushes him on to uncover what is taking the lives of the local children.
Not to be confused with 1989's competent made for TV film, Hammer films production boasts a terrific cast, looks and sounds great with real locations assisting the gravity. Set in early 1920's, the period is wonderfully recreated - a time where séance and superstition is rife.
Opening with a creepy melodic score and an eerie children's party which ends mysteriously tragic you know your on somber solid ground and in good horror hands. There are plenty of scares, spine chilling moments and jump scares which have the quality to make hairs stand-up on the back of necks thanks to the fantastic sound design and visuals.
Lamp lit sets, odd grim town folk, rolling fog, graveyards, ghosts, creepy dolls and photos, this version of Woman in Blank oozes atmosphere. James Watkins delivers a slow burning chiller which allows the tragic character of widower Kipp time to breathe.
Based on Susan Hill's novel The Woman in Black's excellent writer Jane Goldman includes the old horror clichés in the screenplay but injects realism along side. It all comes together thanks to the great casting. A mature Daniel Radcliffe as defiant Mr Kipps is surprising effective, veteran Ciarán Hinds is on top form as wealthy land owner Daily and Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, and Liz White are all wonderful. The supporting cast even down to the child actors are effective. Nevertheless, Radcliffe is very much the focus.
It's refreshing like the recent Innkeepers (2011) with it's back to basics approach of little blood and simple chills. Arguably surpassing the Haunted (1995), The Others (2001) and reminiscent of the Haunting (1963) Woman in Black harks back to the days of old school horror and scares with a modern slick execution.
The icing on the cake is its horrible, yet, brave heart wrenching downbeat or debatably upbeat ending which will stay with you long after the credits roll.