The success of the Woman in Black surprises critics

Some critics are a little surprised at the definitive box office success of The Woman in Black, a film that is currently out-grossing just about every horror flick in UK history. The suggestion is that scads of kids are going just to see what Harry Potter is doing these days, and its initial draw certainly has something to do with that factor. However, that’s not nearly all of it.

Daniel Radcliffe is only one of the stars; he plays Arthur Kipps, a young attorney on a last chance assignment to settle the estate of a reclusive widow. His job includes selling the house she died in, and that’s what makes the film. Eel Marsh House, the epitome of old haunted houses, sits off the mainland where a connecting causeway is covered by the tides at regular intervals; no neighbours, of course.

Director James Watkins makes the most of his wonderfully eerie sets and relies on good old-fashioned haunting to provide the chills. Arthur is not welcome in the village composed of fearful, superstitious folk. His only ‘allies’ are Ciaran Hinds and and Janet McTeer as Mr. Daily and his grief-maddened wife, both of them practically perfect in their roles and adding considerably to the film’s total impact.