While I’m no actor (though I did play a brilliant Puck in an arts camp production of A Midsummers Night Dream when I was seven years old), I would imagine that the biggest fear for an actor is the idea of getting typecast. For instance, it was that fear that stopped Josh Hartnett from signing a multi-picture deal to star as Superman a little less than a decade ago. If you’re reading this and asking who is Josh Hartnett, we’re probably in agreement that it wasn’t the smartest move.
Then there’s the case of Daniel Radcliffe, known to us all as Harry Potter. Through eight films we watched Radcliffe grow into manhood, but how easy would it be for fans of the Boy Who Lived to see him as anybody else than Harry? How easy would it be for the actor to get cast in roles that wouldn’t simply try and mirror his most famous character?
With The Woman In Black, Daniel Radcliffe plays a part far removed from the wizarding world, and pulls it off fantastically well.
The film, set in Victorian era England, is a brilliant ghost story about lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), sent to a small town to wrap up the affairs of a woman who has passed away. Apart from the wealthy Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds), the townspeople are not happy to see him. In the meantime, Kipps is hearing noises in Eel Marsh House, the estate of the deceased woman, and catches a glimpse of a woman in black on the grounds.
And that’s all you’re going to get from me on the plot of the film. I went in knowing nothing and was all the better for it. What I will reveal is that The Woman In Black is a seriously scary movie. Watching with the Queen, I let out more than a few yelps while watching, which to me is the sign of a freaking spooky flick. And this was all achieved without any gore or gratuitous violence. While there are definite moments where you can see the scare coming a mile away, there are also quite a few that sneak up on you. Those are the ones that stick with you after the movie is done and you’re trying to get some sleep. Kudos to the studios involved (including Alliance and legendary horror studio Hammer Film Productions) for supporting a ghost story that relies on spookiness rather than slicing and dicing.
As for Daniel Radcliffe, you don’t sit there thinking you’re watching Harry Potter in a horror film. Sans glasses and horcruxes, Radcliffe is a genuinely good actor who plays his role as dark and distraught, but determined to solve the mystery of the woman in black. While there are moments where you question his characters actions (really, you’re going down that dimly lit hallway again??), you never question the performance itself. Radcliffe’s solid acting and the film’s showing at the box office ($126 million on $15 million budget) makes it clear that both audiences and the actor see him as more than just one character.
Not only is The Woman In Black a creepy film for ghost story lovers, but it makes the case for Daniel Radcliffe’s future as an actor. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
The Woman In Black is out on Blu-Ray/DVD and VOD this Tuesday. You can order it here.