Do You Believe in Magic? Ghosts?

Daniel Radcliffe, better known as “The Boy Who Lived,” has made his name known to mainstream society for the role of Harry Potter over the last ten years. Even though 2012 will mark the first year without a new Potter film, Radcliffe has found his way back to the big screen with his new movie The Woman in Black (2012).

Daniel RadcliffeSeeing Daniel Radcliffe’s name all over the Internet was always to be expected. However, since its introduction to theaters on February 3, The Woman in Black has caused a storm on all social media websites. From Twitter to Facebook, Tumblr to Foursquare, there is no escaping the hype surrounding Radcliffe’s latest role. Ever the curious one, I decided to take a look at why the film has been so successful since its opening. After all, the film made quite the profit, bringing in $20,874,072 on opening weekend alone, so something had to be drawing the crowd in.

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a lawyer, who upon moving to a small marshy village encounters a female ghost. The movie is based on a 1983 Susan Hill novel of the same title. Horror fanatics have a lot to rejoice about. The movie stands out from the clichéd horror films I’ve come to expect in today’s cinema. Although the plot follows the current paranormal trend, Director James Watkins combines shocking “jump scares” with a lingering eerie feeling, making it quite an exceptional film.

A lot of work goes into making you feel uneasy while watching the film, a plus for anyone looking to get a good adrenaline rush. From the highly contrasted, desaturated color palate and the choice of setting, the film plays on a psychological level. The viewer is intended to feel secluded right along with the characters of the film. Like all good horror films before, The Woman in Black uses the fear of the unknown as their means of keeping its audience frightened.

James Watkins also presents the audience with well rounded characters. Especially when looking at Arthur Kipps, there is an emotional journey to be experienced. You can enjoy being kept in suspense but also relate to the characters. James Watkins told IMDb, “I don’t want the cast to be fodder to be slaughtered in the way a slasher movie does. I think it is important that every character, you see them from the inside-out; who they are, what they feel.” The film is incredibly successful in doing this. The production team overcomes the cheesy horror clichés, allowing even the more gimmick-like scares to be very effective.

A fun fact for film fans: The 2012 adaption of the novel was not the first; in 1989, there was a television movie directed by Herbert Wise. This particular adaptation starred Adrian Rawlins as the role of Arthur. In 2001, Rawlins found his way back to the big screen, playing none other than the famous James Potter in The Sorcerer’s Stone (2001). Oh, the fun of cinema (and of spending far too much time on IMDb).

But what really makes the film successful is the simplicity of it being a good ghost story. All the elements of cinema come together tell a brilliant story of the fear of what we do not know. There is no gore, no overly constructed monster; just an old haunted house, some great acting, and a story that you will not soon forget.

Featured image credit to o5com and Joakim Wahlander via Creative Commons licensing; image in article credited to Joella Marano via Creative Commons licensing 

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