The Woman in Black (2012) Director: James Watkins

I'm a hardcore horror movie fan. I can sit through Martyrs and not blink. You can throw buckets of blood and guts at me and I won't flinch. After watching The Woman in Black, the last time I left a cinema in such a state was when they cut Gwynnie's head off and shoved it in a box in Seven. The Woman in Black is TERRIFYING and will chill you down to the bone. It's almost the perfect horror film, and all kudos must go to director James Watkins and the brilliant Jane Goldman for her screenplay which is respectful to the old conventions of Hammer but brings it bang up to date for new audiences.

Set in Edwardian times, Daniel Radcliffe plays the grieving young widower and lawyer Arthur Kipps who lives with his four year old son and nanny. Kipps is sent 'up north' to handle the eerie estate of Eel Marsh House, located on an island out in the marshes and frequently cut off by the tide. On his arrival, the locals are unwelcoming and treat him unkindly. Their children also start killing themselves in horrific ways, and it turns out that there's been A LOT of kids dying for quite some time. Kipps slowly starts to reveal the haunting secrets of Eel Marsh House and the mysterious Woman in Black who is sighted there, as his own experiences with her grow more and more knicker-wettingly scary.

We are side-by-side with Kipps for his entire journey. When he stays overnight at Eel Marsh House, we see what he sees and quite often doubt what he sees as much as he does. This is down to some clever camera work and the shots creeping around doorways or corners to give us the reveal as if we are Kipps. We think we see the Woman in Black one minute - the next, she is not there. Some shots are deliberately grainy and hazy to make us doubt whether it is her, say, emerging from the marshland. And when we DO see her face - it's not something you'll forget easily. Forget Freddy. Forget Jason. Forget whatever you've built her up to be. When she finally 'meets' Kipps, it's the culmination of a rollercoaster ride where Kipps, and us as the audience, don't have time to realise that we're being haunted. We're there. We're in it. There's no getting out of it now. When you see her face, you will want to faint, scream and cry. It is that intense, and there is one moment which will have your head hitting the ceiling.

Also unexpected is how brutal the film is towards children. Children in horror are uncomfortable and anything involving them is likely to put the shivers up you, but this really, really pushes it. The Woman in Black's own son is dead, claimed by the marshland, and he is also part of the macabre legacy of the house. And when we know that Kipps' own angelic and beautiful son, literally the cutest little boy ever on celluloid, is coming on the train to meet him we can't help but fear the ending. It will BREAK YOU. Half the cinema could not move after, and grown men couldn't walk. The film therefore succeeds just as well as the play - not only by smashing the UK box office record for horror by becoming the top grossing British horror movie in the last 20 years, but by being ABSOLUTELY PETRIFYING. Daniel Radcliffe's awesome in it too and proves his own merit as a bankable leading man.

Watch it and be prepared for a very bumpy and very chilly ride. I'd advise having someone, or something, to cling to.
4/5 blood-curdling screams