Daniel Radcliffe appears in his first post-Potter role and it’s a tall order: the lead in the adaptation of Susan Hill’s much-loved ghost story, a role that requires him to be almost the only one on screen for large amounts of the film. In director James Watkins’ hands, though, Potter makes the leap with aplomb.
In turn-of-the-century London, Radcliffe’s Arthur Kipps is sent to the north of England to the isolated Eel Marsh House to process the legal papers of a recently deceased woman. When he gets there he finds a local community terrified by the titular lady who’s said to haunt the property and its marshland surrounds, sightings of her having deadly repercussions.
Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass) reworks Hill’s source material, giving Kipps a son and late wife, which shrouds the character in grief, the loss of loved ones forming a key component of the film’s story, too. Watkins, who proved adept at racheting up the tension and delivering the scares with his directing debut Eden Lake, proves that was no fluke. He revels in the atmosphere of the period setting, making Eel Marsh House a truly chilling presence, and he delivers a number of stand-out scare-sequences as Kipps roams the halls chasing down spectral shadows.
The real revelation, though, is Radcliffe. Often criticised for his acting while on Potter duty, here he proves he can actually cut it, his Kipps a convincingly terrified, grief-stricken man. Put it all together and you have an outstanding haunted house frightener, one that proves there is a post-Hogwarts life for Radcliffe.
Film review by Alasdair Morton
Good for: Watching rows of popcorn fly into the air, regularly
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciarán Hinds | 12A | 95mins
The Woman In Black is out Feb 10 through Hammer Films.