Like Harry Potter… without the magic

‘Woman in Black’ horror flick void of any real substance

By MOLLLY DUERIG
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Co-Features Editor

Daniel Radcliffe plays a troubled father in his latest film, Woman in Black. Courtesy of fanpage.it

Daniel Radcliffe is the only reason you should even consider paying money to see The Woman in Black, a newly released and sickeningly predictable horror flick. Radcliffe performs well, but his acting skills would be far more beneficial to a movie with actual substance. On the other hand, the parallels between his character, Arthur Kipps, and the Harry Potter that made Radcliffe famous are hilariously uncanny.

Just like Harry, Arthur Kipps has an exceptional capability to get himself involved in the most dangerous situations possible. Harry battles dragons and travels through time; Arthur repeatedly snoops through the abandoned mansion lair of an evil ghost lady. They’ve both struggled through extremely hard times: Harry lost both of his parents when he was a baby, and Arthur’s wife died in childbirth.

Perhaps it’s the conquering of such difficult experiences that has inspired both of these leading men to constantly take on a hero’s role. Any responsibility that needs to be assumed? No need to worry if one of these guys is around. Harry de-possesses Ginny Weasley from an evil diary’s spell; Arthur dashes into a burning house to rescue a young girl (who sets herself on fire in front of him).

As far as plot goes, this movie falls flat. Set in the early 1900s, it centers on the story of a small English town troubled by a woman dressed in black (bet you couldn’t have guessed that one). What’s so special about this woman? Well, besides the fact that she’s dead and still likes to chill out by her old mansion, every single time anybody in the town sees her, a child in the town dies. She’s angry and bitter about the death of her own son, Nathaniel, in a nearby swamp. What bothers her far more than his actual death, though, is the fact that his body was never recovered from the swamp in which he died.

Yup, that’s right. Poor Arthur, a lawyer who’s been assigned to handle the woman’s estate, is completely clueless when he first visits the mansion and sees a lady in black staring at him from the backyard cemetery (yeah, she has a cemetery in her backyard, no big deal). He tries to do the logical and honorable thing by reporting a trespasser at the police station. But he’s bewildered when a group of young children run frantically inside, dragging with them a pasty-white young girl who looks like she’s about to be sick.

Well, you can’t blame her, given the fact that she’s just drank lye (sodium hydroxide). Blood spills from the girl’s mouth as she collapses dead on the floor in the station. Arthur scrambles desperately to save the child, but it’s useless. Town residents explain that once the woman in black has been sighted, there is no preventing the imminent death of a child, as her go-to tactic is to terrify each child into killing him/herself.

Oh yeah, did I mention Daniel Radcliffe’s character has a kid in this movie? Pay attention, ‘cause director James Watkins sneaks in crucial details like this in a way that makes them hard to miss. But yes, Arthur does have a kid, one that we don’t meet ‘til the very last scene.

Just like our beloved Harry Potter, Arthur has a quick and clever mind that serves him well in times of despair. After successfully seeking out the woman a couple more times and confirming the town legend (given the resulting child deaths), Arthur decides that the only way to restore peace to the town is to reunite the woman with her lost son. This can only mean one thing: time to dig his body out of the swamp!

And that he does—within ten minutes. You’d think that if the town residents haven’t been able to find his body after decades of looking, Arthur might struggle a bit more. But nope. Radcliffe sure does make a great mystery-solving wizard (ha).

All in all, a great choice if you’re interested in seeing virtually every typical horror device smashed into one movie that’s barely supported by an empty shamble of a plot. From sadistic monkey dolls clanging tambourines, to a desolate abandoned mansion surrounded by moats, to a shrieking child corpse, The Woman in Black has got it all.