Friday, February 17, 2012

The Woman In Black

Directed by: James Watkins

Release Date: 2012

As I write this, I'm extremely disappointed after coming back from the theater. Two things before I begin this entry.
1- This is the first movie I saw in the theater as of 2012 since December 2011 (I watch on average 12-13 movies a year in the theater so I choose them wisely. My movie ticket was $14! It's not cheap to watch movies in New York City.)
2- This is the first horror movie I've seen in the theater since last year's Scream 4, so I came into this movie with high expectations not only as a genre picture but due to the massive positive reviews from both Rotten Tomatoes (certified fresh) and Metacritic (in the green zone).

Unfortunately, this horror fanatic was unimpressed, completely un-petrified, and un-thrilled from start to finish.
The first thing that caught my attention was Daniel Radcliffe as a dad. I said, "He's a dad? How old is he supposed to be? What time period is this?" Already, I was distracted. It didn't end there.

After we learn that lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a widower in the first five minutes (trust me, I didn't spoil anything about the movie at all), we follow him to this town in which he has to settle a matter in the Marsh house. However, as soon as he lands in town, he elicits spooky stares that convey something is terribly amiss. This sets the so called suspense and mood of the movie.

Here's my problem. All the typical horror conventions were used that work...if they were used cleverly. In hindsight, I should have known better than to spend money on a PG-13 movie. Most horror movies marketed with this rating are always a disappointment (to me).

The most salient aspects of the movie? The production design and the color scheme. There's a beautiful scene in which Arthur is on his way to the Marsh house the first time. His blue eyes match the dark gray and washed out color as he's sitting in a horse carriage. I was able to admire this. Which is a problem. If I'm spending too much time paying attention to the production of the film and not the content itself? The movie is not holding my attention at all.

In addition to distracting myself with set design and decoration, I kept comparing the movie to other TV shows I've seen. Two shows come to mind.
1- Doctor Who. On the episode, "Blink," statues come to life and take people away into a certain time period. The statues in this movie brought me back to this show and made me want to watch Doctor Who instead.
2 - American Horror Story. I only watched a few episodes of this series enough to dislike it. The aspect of the house being the source of the "horror" was interesting but not enough to keep me invested. In this movie, it was the woman in black who was the source (again, no spoilers here, the title of the movie indicates she's the source after all). By the time the dialogue that explained to the audience the woman in black's motivation, I already knew that. I said to my companion at the movie, "Uh, is this supposed to be news? Duh." All I did was shake my head.

I don't know. Maybe I've seen it all. Maybe I'm looking to be grossed out. Or something campy. Or a supernatural horror picture that will sincerely give me the creeps. I'm not saying I can't appreciate a good old fashioned horror picture without the typical gore, blood, guts, and then some. I most certainly can. What was missing in this picture was antiquity. What do I mean by that? If this movie were made in say, the 1930s or 40s, this would have worked. However, each time a director tries to re-create a movie with a quiet and slow moving atmosphere, this falls flat. Why? Because it's contemporary! But again, I don't know. I'm most likely jaded from spending time on this movie that didn't take me anywhere new or petrify me in the least. I anticipated most of the scares and didn't squeal once. Well, I'm lying. I was surprised once. But only Once.

This movie has received positive reviews for the folks sick of the torture porn and slasher movies. I totally get that. This movie and I just didn't mesh well is all.

See for yourself and then get back to me. I'd like to see what moviegoers enjoyed about the picture that I didn't see.