The Woman in Black
The kids and the fans will like The Woman in Black because Daniel does well. The adults have other reasons to enjoy it, if they need them.

Plot summary

A lawyer is forced to leave his young son and travel to a remote village to attend to the affairs of the recently deceased owner of an old mansion. As he begins to uncover the town’s tragic and tortured secrets, his fears escalate when he discovers that local children have been disappearing under mysterious circumstances.








Ciarán Hinds, Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer

In Victorian London, a young solicitor isn’t faring so well. He lost his wife in childbirth, his young son is being raised by a nanny and his tiring boss gives him one last chance to get in the good books of the firm: a working week sorting through the papers of a dead woman at Eel Marsh House, a dilapidated coastal mansion. When he arrives, Arthur Kipps can tell he isn’t welcome. Maybe it’s the local solicitor trying to force him back onto a London train, or the children staring at him from every window. Anyway, Arthur’s world really begins to unravel after his visit to the house, when he sees a veiled figure walking amongst gravestones. Who is she? Has she anything to do with the deaths of so many local children? Can Arthur solve the mystery, or will he be another victim of this ghoulish lady?

The Woman in Black is Daniel Radcliffe’s first post-Potter screen appearance, and so the world and his wife – dragged along by their Harry-mad sprogs – will no doubt see this film. In the main, they’ll leave satisfied that he did a good job, and perhaps the film’s most significant achievement is that it confirms the fifth-richest Briton under-30 can retain a fruitful acting career. But I can’t be the only one that instead of satisfaction, feels a profound, well, relief?

I felt like a convert to Radcliffe fandom by the end of the Potter franchise, but what started as a seeming inability to act in the first films only really grew into a vague competence.  No, to admire Daniel Radcliffe takes a deeper appreciation and one undeniably tied up with Harry Potter, the books, the films and the whole kitbag. Simply put, because it’s hard to hate Harry Potter, it’s hard to hate Radcliffe. Similarly, it’s hard not to root for him, and feel relieved when his next effort isn’t half bad. Despite the deficiencies he may have as a performer those who are already invested in him support him because he gives it his all.

That is not meant to sound patronising. Being a ‘committed’ actor is highly lauded and the distinction between actors who have many other aspects to their talent and actors like Radcliffe who perhaps don’t doesn’t necessarily make much difference to the film itself. Like Harry before him and now Arthur, Daniel refuses to give up until the tale is told and the success of The Woman in Black – narratively speaking, let alone financially –hangs on this. I couldn’t help thinking whilst watching him emerge from a bog with only his mouth not covered in sludge- “Good on you Harry, you’ve done it again”. Sorry, I meant Daniel. Sure, he doesn’t pull off playing a father, and his accent stays the same despite being over a hundred years in the past. But he’s twenty one, has no kids and isn’t particularly versatile. Daniel Craig didn’t even attempt a Swedish accent in The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and no one really minded. The kids and the fans will like The Woman in Black because Daniel does well. The adults have other reasons to enjoy it, if they need them.

For starters, it follows on from decent British horror/thrillers from the past decade like The Descent and Eden Lake (also directed by James Watkins) and it sits comfortably within this canon. It marks a proper comeback for Hammer films and the publicity gained from this film will do them the world of good. Twenty years after Bram Stoker’s Dracula it’s also nice to have a new gothic horror film to savour for the next generation. The support cast are strong, the clear plot allows for some well executed jumps and scares and, without spoiling, the ending is unexpected. Finishing with the star though, Radcliffe may never step out of Harry’s shadow and perhaps he “cannot live whilst the other survives”, but maybe that doesn’t matter. The Woman in Black is proof that he does meek better than heroic, and if the casting directors agree then audiences may be going potty over Daniel for years to come.