The Woman in Black is a very straight-forward, simple film that tells a concise but worthwhile story in just the right amount of time. One of its strengths is the implementation of a very limited cast. This is basically a two man show, with Radcliffe either working alone or opposite Ciaran Hinds, who fits his part perfectly. The two work well together and by keeping the importance of the supporting parts to a minimum, director James Watkins prevents his film from falling into the cringe-inducing, “How does that person have a SAG card?!” performances that plague most horror movies. Much is put on the shoulders of Radcliffe, then, and as such, I’d call this a modest success for the young actor. This role is enough of a departure from his days as Harry Potter and yet familiar enough as to seem comfortable. It isn’t a stunning performance by any means but it is strong enough to hold water. The next two or three roles will be even more important for Radcliffe in terms of preventing himself from being type cast but this is a step in the right direction.
Watkins also succeeds in creating a terse tone from the very beginning of the film and carrying that through to the very end. The Woman in Black rarely holds back as the thrills and chills start early and come often. As a result, most of twists feel very natural, though the final turn seems a bit forced to me. I was legitimately freaked out at times and Watkins does a great jump of bringing the obligatory jumps and more drawn-out terror together into a mix that never really lets the audience get settled in.