If you judge a horror story by how many times it makes you jump, then the latest offering from the re-launched Hammer Film Productions really hits the spot. The Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club offering this week was The Women in Black (2012). James Pickering, one of the cinema’s young programmers, gave us a short but precise introduction the film. The cast included Daniel Radcliffe, in his first film since the Harry Potter franchise reached it inevitable conclusion, as central character Arthur Kipps, Ciaran Hinds, recently seen at the RBC in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), was local land owner Sam Daily and the screen and theatre actress Janet McTeer, who I have vivid memories of playing Vita Sackville West in the 1990 TV mini series Portrait of a Marriage, played his wife Elizabeth. In the directors chair on this occasion was James Watkins whose previous film was the 2008 psychological British horror Eden Lake. James went on to tell us that the film was based on Susan Hill’s 1983 ghost story of the same name with the screenplay written Jane Goodman best known for writing Stardust (2007), Kick-Ass (2010) and Xmen 1st Class (2011). The film relates a story about a young inexperienced Edwardian solicitor Arthur Kipps who, still mourning the death of his wife during childbirth, is dispatched to investigate the affairs of a Mrs Drablow a reclusive old lady recently departed. He has to travel to a rather strange and sinister village located amongst the Fens. The old lady’s isolated gothic mansion Eel March House can only be reached from a tidal causeway. Its not long before Arthur realises that there’s something sinister afoot!
A lively discussion followed where it was confirmed that the audience genuinely enjoyed their scary evenings entertainment but were divided on the ending i.e. was it a happy or sad ending? It was agreed that the film was full of traditional clichéd horror moments but they were done with such panache that it did not matter. Like the Hammer films of the past it succeeded in making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and caused one or two members of the audience to emit the odd scream. The only reservation was that Daniel Radcliffe looked a little young for his role but still managed to carry it off with a certain resolute determination that stands him in good stead for future roles. Originally to be shot in 3D, the sense of evil in the old house is cleverly evoked for which the movies art department warrant’s a special mention along with the cinematography, I personally could of done without the very creepy porcelain dolls and spooky clockwork toys!! Hammer has recently announced that it is to make a sequel to Monday night’s film titled The Woman in Black: Angels of Death.