I love old fashioned scary movies, creepy and atmospheric with just the right amount of "gotcha" moments to make you jump. They don't make as many these days, modern horror movies leaning more towards gore, nudity, and marginal actors. Don't get me wrong, those are entertaining in their own way, but I still prefer creepy over severed heads.
The Woman in Black, from legendary British brand Hammer Films, delivers on all my favorite levels. Deserted English manor house with a sense of foreboding? Check. Lots of dark corners and rooms in said manor house? Check. Suspicious townspeople who know more than they're saying? Check. Disturbingly eerie British toys? Double check.
Based on a 1982 novel by Susan Hill, it stars Harry Potter himself, Mr. Daniel "Never Has To Work a Day in His Life Again If He Doesn't Want To" Radcliffe. Set in Victorian times, he portrays Arthur Kipps, a London lawyer and father despondent at the death of his wife in childbirth several years before. Apparently his work has suffered because of it, because he is sent to a village in the countryside to go through the paperwork of an elderly woman who recently died. It is made clear this is his last chance to keep his job.
Of course, trouble starts as soon as he gets there. No one wants to take him to the house, or even talk to him. As he begins work in the creepy old place, he begins to see a mysterious woman in black around the grounds and in the house. The movie becomes a journey by Arthur to find out who she is and why she's there. As frequently happens in these cases, it's never good news. Possession, child suicides (a bit unsettling) and general ghostly rage all play a part.
I loved this movie. It had atmosphere and chills and the right amount of incidents to make you jump. The acting by Daniel Radcliffe was strong, and Ciarin Hinds (Rome, Munich) was particularly good as Arthur's only sympathizer. He plays a man who also lost a child to The Woman in Black, but still doesn't want to believe in spirits.
As a final note, the ending is one you will love or hate. It can be seen as a happy ending, depending on your point of view, or ... just not. Check it out though, if you like that kind of thing. If you're strictly a severed head/chainsaw killer/hockey mask type person, don't bother. There's none of that here.