***Warning: Spoilers Ahoy!***
I was very excited for this movie. Namely because it had been a while since I'd seen a decent horror flick, and I was looking forward to seeing Daniel Radcliffe in a role outside of Harry Potter.
Brooke and I were the only ones in the theater besides a couple sitting way up high in the back. So we were basically alone. I loved it but Brooke said it made her feel vulnerable, poor thing.
After about the first 60 seconds of the film, Brooke was struck dumb and I was seriously doubting the wisdom in seeing a movie that was apparently about children committing suicide. I had been warned that child deaths were present in abundance but no one mentioned they were self-inflicted! You sickos.
Anywho, the film itself was very well done. I have to applaud the filmmakers despite the content of the movie. I don't scare very easily, but this film had me assuming the fetal position with my hands over my eyes more often than I'd like to admit.
And I have to tip my figurative hat to them for the absence of gore. There was next to none. Most of the scares were psychological, for instance, you would hear a creepy noise but see nothing. Your imagination becomes your enemy.
Another little detail I particularly appreciated as an archaeologist was the realistic way the dead bodies appeared. I know, I know. Sick thing to notice, right? But in my studies I've come to know the particular way bodies tend to decompose according to their surroundings. Therefore, I was impressed by the fact that the Woman's body in her coffin had become almost totally skeletonized, whereas the boy was almost perfectly preserved even though she died after him. This is due to the bog-like marsh that the boy's body was buried in.
The total absence of air prevents decomposition, thus allowing bodies to remain intact for centuries. (Google 'bog bodies' if you're interested, you nasty.)
Now, about the cast...
They were excellent. I was surprised and delighted to see Roger Allam as Daniel Radcliffe's jerk-of-a-boss. Don't know who he is? IMDB him. (For my Les Miz readers, he created the role of Javert in the original cast back in the 80's.)
I was doubly delighted to see David Burke as constable Collins. He only had a few lines, but every time I saw him I had to suppress the urge to cry, "Watson!" (See my post 'Sherlock Holmes 101'.)
Ciaran Hinds was awesome. I loved his character. In fact, I was more worried about him than Daniel Radcliffe when they were trapped in the house, "NOOO! Run, Aberforth! Get out get out get out!"
Up until that point I had assumed he was the villain behind it all, and that his crazy wife was actually the Woman in Black. But oh boy was I wrong. He turned out to be an honestly good guy that simply wanted to help Daniel Radcliffe.
Speaking of Daniel Radcliffe, I thought he did a wonderful job. I was afraid I would have trouble seeing him as anything other than the Boy Who Lived. Fortunately, my fears weren't realized.
He pulled off playing a father very well (except of course when he utterly fails as a parent at the conclusion of the movie), but apparently it wasn't difficult to pull off because the little actor who plays Joseph is actually Daniel Radcliffe's godson. So the parent-child chemistry was already there.
My friend and fellow blogger Shannon has already done an excellent job pointing out the shortcomings and errors of the film, so for that I'll refer you to her post:
Shannon raises some very good questions. I would like to answer one of them myself: Why does the Woman in Black continue her reign of terror even after she's reunited with her son?
To answer this question, let me reiterate my thoughts upon the close-up of the Woman in Black just before the credits roll:
And now for my analysis of the conclusion of the movie.
I must first express my woe regarding the failure of the writers. The potential for a classic thriller is just too much to bear when it is so carelessly botched by a crappy ending.
How should it have ended, you ask? Pretty much in any other way than it did. Here's how I think it could have gone:
Arthur dives in front of the train to save his son, the train hits and kills him, but leaves Joseph unscathed. After scraping Arthur's remains off the wall and burying it, Sam adopts Joseph as his own son, thus curing his aching heart and his wife's madness. Sam then wisely moves away from Depressionville and starts a new life in the city where they all live happily ever after.
Or, if the writers were hellbent on killing them both, it should have gone like this: