The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 95 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Daniel Radcliff, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Liz White
Directed by: James Watkins
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Written by: Jane Goldman - Based on the novel by Susan Hill
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 22, 2012
"She'll never let go"
Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a widowed lawyer whose grief has put his career in jeopardy, is sent to a remote village to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased eccentric. But upon his arrival, it soon becomes clear that everyone in the town is keeping a deadly secret. Although the townspeople try to keep Kipps from learning their tragic history, he soon discovers that the house belonging to his client is haunted by the ghost of a woman who is determined to find someone and something she lost and no one, not even the children, are safe from her vengeance.
Based on the novel of the same name by Susan Hill The woman in black is an old school horror film that eschews blood letting in favor of psychological elements and eerie chills. The story is an English gothic tale about a small town that has seen its share of loss. Their pain revolves around the outwardly inexplicable suicide deaths of their children. Most of the townsfolk believe the problem lies in the unspoken evil that lurks in a dreary old manor house that resides on the outskirts of town on the other side of a large marsh. Years ago a seven year old boy died in a carriage accident from which his body was never recovered. Legend has it that the ghost of his mother, dressed in a black shroud, haunts the manor/grounds and seeks vengeance for the loss of her son. When the owner of the manor house passes away a young lawyer, Arthur Kipps, is sent by the firm representing the estate to settle its affairs. Arthur has tragedy in his own past which has led to problems at work. This assignment is his last chance to get things back on track and he is determined to take care of it. His arrival in town is met with apprehension and a foreboding sense of dread from the locals who try to dissuade him from going to the manor house. Unclear about exactly what is fueling the unspoken fear in town Arthur heads out to the manor house. Once there and alone Arthur comes to understand that the town's fear as well as the evil behind it is very real. Afraid that it may come for his own son, Arthur must confront it head on in the hopes of slaking its thirst for vengeance.
I liked the look and feel of this film and appreciated its traditional take on the genre. The character of Arthur Kipps is sympathetically drawn and fits well within the narrative's construct. I would have preferred more background/detail on the woman as the information provided would be best described as sketchy. Since the story hinges on her quest for revenge I found this to be problematic. Filling in the gaps wouldn't have added much to the film's 95 minute runtime and would have added the depth necessary to make for a more rounded movie experience. I didn't find the ending to be wholly satisfying either but that may be dependent on ones expectations. Daniel Radcliff gives a credible performance in the lead and is aptly supported by Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer. Genre fans looking for gore/violence will be disappointed. As it stands The woman in black is a decent horror film that despite its fairly predicable frights/ jump scares is creepy enough to engage and makes for a good way to spend a dark rainy night.
The rating is for thematic material and violence/disturbing images.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The woman in black comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 Mbps.
This film's elements aren't lent to overly vibrant colors and high gloss video quality. Images tend to lean toward darker color schemes, and grittier textures that provide the look that the filmmakers strive for to drive the story's elements. This is done to good effect. Shadow delineation is quite good and revealing of subtle details within dark backgrounds and low lighting sequences which gave those scenes better visual depth. Stable contrast and black levels allow scenes containing mixed content to appear dynamic with punchy dark highlights. Detail is rendered quite well with crisp textures and definitive resolution that brings forth subtle nuance within images onscreen. Colors are limited to darker tones with occasional splashes of vivid hues which stand out nicely against the film's dark visual aesthetic.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack has good dynamic range, detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the surround platform to drive the film's elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room's acoustic environment is notable. Discrete rear channel activity isn't extensive however the elements of fright provide an enriching level of immersion which is punctuated by palpably rich bass. Dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. This surround mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this excellent soundtrack as it augments the enjoyment of this film.
- Commentary by director James Watkins
- (HD) Inside the perfect thriller: The making of The woman in black - 9 minute featurette
- (HD) No fear: Daniel Radcliff as Arthur Kipps - 4 minute featurette
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Based on the novel of the same name by Susan Hill The woman in black is an old school horror film that eschews blood letting in favor of psychological horror and eerie chills. The storyline could have been fleshed out a little better and the elements of fright are a little on the predictable side but the film still works thanks in part to a decent performance by star Daniel Radcliff. The woman in black comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video quality and an underwhelming supplemental offering that features a bland audio commentary and two short features that look behind the scenes. When you're in the mood for a little old school horror on movie night drop this one in your rental queue.
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