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Cinema Review

Robyn Morrison reviews Jane Goldman’s thrilling screen adaptation of The Woman in Black

Based on the traditional English ghost story by Susan Hill, The Woman in Black has been running in London’s West End for more than 20 years and has now been tailored to tell the tale on screen in Jane Goldman’s cinematic adaptation.

The story is of Arthur Kipps, an inexperienced solicitor and young father who is summoned to a remote mansion surrounded by marshland
to settle the late owners estate.

Undeterred by warnings from residents of the local village about its gruesome past, Kipps visits the sinister Eel Marsh House to discover a terrifying connection between the tragic deaths of children from the village and the history of the estate.

A widower having lost his wife in childbirth, Kipps is a character susceptible to superstitions, his past experiences intensifying his questioning of spirits remaining after death. As the story unfolds, concerns are raised for the safety of Kipps’ own son, intensifying his drive to discover the reason behind the curse.

Staying true to the novels thrilling stage production, Director James Watkins uses mirrors, shadows and empty spaces to build suspense, waiting until audiences are truly on the edge of their seats before shocking them with images of the dangerous stranger who resides within the estates four walls.

The clues hidden in the paperwork and beneath the decomposing wallpaper, disconcerting Victorian toys and cobweb strewn corridors provide the perfect setting for this gothic tale of the mysterious cloaked Woman in Black.

Desperately trying to break away from his role as Harry Potter, Radcliff plays the Edwardian hero, Kipps but is unconvincing as a young father in a role which would have suited a more mature and experienced actor.

Ciaran Hands gives a remarkable performance as wealthy landowner Sam Daily, who soon becomes Kipps’ partner in solving the gruesome mystery after his own son was victim to the curse.

Whilst The Woman in Black uses a conventional cinematic approach to create suspense and get the audience jumping out of their seats, the strong narrative and clever work from director James Watkins make it a commendable adaptation sure to send a shiver down your spine.