The Woman in Black: whilst figuring out a reclusive widow’s estate, a young lawyer awakens a nasty ghost that terrorises the local town. Everything is inherently creepy; it’s a timeframe that we associate with ghosts, the setting is the classic cut-off haunted house, crazy weather, and there’s just something uneasy about staring/possessed/haunted children. It’s well-ececuted with lots of suspense and randomly placed big/noisy jumps; nothing groundbreaking, but very effective. Despite being a tad young, Radcliffe – and his sideburns – do well given there’s a lot of non-speaking sections, and Hinds truly lights up the scenes he’s in. The woman herself is better when not seen, and after the dig-up, the film loses its old-skool fear as the ghost’s behaviour becomes more ‘modern horror’. Being a pansy, for a film rated 12A, this had me in knots all over the place with some truly unbearable moments – it’s definitely not for kids. All characters also suffer from classic horror tropes; why go chasing ghosts, why go back to the house, why dot the townspeople refuse to re-locate? But these are probably better unanswered. Like Hammer itself, The Woman in Black is it’s a classic genre picture, very british, and good to see back on the silver screen.
13 Assassins: a group of chosen samurai are tasked with killing an evil lord, for the future of Feudal Japan! The first hour is intense, but slow-paced – perked up with some token Takashi maddness / grotesque violence. Then you have the 45 minute long action scene, which starts as a tactical battle but quickly turns into a bit of a generic hack-and-slash – and you don’t see much action, just swords flying and splatter sound effects. Takashi does a good job of playing up / emphasising what outsiders most associate with japan: shogun, samurai, dynasty, honor, respect, code, infatuation with death etc… almost to a patriotic level. The biggest downfall was the focus and development of all 13 characters, which doesn’t count for much when they all have the same outfit, haircut and are pretty blurry in the battle. 13 Assassins is a solid ‘against-the-odds’ type story, but collapses a bit under its own grand finale.
The Wolfman: Re-make of a 1940s Werewolf film, and probably just as lame and cheesy as the original! I can’t really sum up how bad this is in mere words but I’ll give it a go: it’s essentially a classic 1980s action flick with inane modern effects and a terrible story. This got more laughs than shocks in the cinema as it was just so cheesy, the highlight being Anthony Hopkins’ campy lord character – how they managed to con such a respected cast into this is absolutely beyond me. It’s far too reliant on cheap jumps / special effects, and the music is as bargain-bin as the script. It’s excessively gory, but even that doesn’t distract you from the cinema butchery. Despite the ‘expectations bar’ being set outrageously low this films still managed to comfortably limbo underneath. Avoid at all costs.