In the same weekend, I was lucky enough to watch two suspense-driven ghost films in a theatrical setting: Hammer's return to tradition with The Woman in Black, starring Daniele Radcliffe, and Ti West's greatly anticipated The Innkeepers. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed by either film.
Yeah, yeah, I know I'm late to the game here, but bloggers don't have print deadlines. So, it's totally okay to review movies a month after I see them, right? Read on for super quick reviews of two solid supernatural horror films.
The Woman in Black
There's a lot to like about this dreary ghost tale: the stark atmosphere, the low-key performances, the stunning art direction, and most of all, the slow burn. The filmmakers expertly build tension with sound, editing, and visual cues. Particularly stunning were well-placed close-ups of old-fashioned children's toys, which often served as warnings to the presence of the supernatural. Leave it to creepy clowns and symbol-playing monkeys to freak people out.
|Radcliffe bravely makes contact with a window.|
The greatest achievement of The Woman in Black is re-capturing that time in cinema when audiences had patience. Though it does have thematic and visual similarities to recent J-Horror films, it operates under the assumption that moviegoers don't need to be force fed CGI effects, hot women, and constant "action." That said, the film is not perfect. Characters and exposition often acted as devices to served the plot, as opposed to real people and real histories. Overall, motivations within the story could have been improved.
In the end, I had a good time with The Woman in Black. I'm happy to see Radcliffe in a non-wizard role, happy to see Hammer on the big screen, and mostly happy to be entertained by a good ghost story.
I'm a fan of Ti West and so I was excited when I discovered his new film would be playing in Seattle. From the trailers and Ti West's filmography, I was expecting a movie full of humor, suspense, and atmosphere. The Innkeepers delivered on those expectations.
|Because a horror movie without cliches, is not a horror movie.|
The film takes its time to set up good characters, wonderfully played by Sara Paxton and Pat Healy. Before any horror occurs, we spend a sizable portion of the screentime getting to know the last-remaining workers of a failing hotel. By the time the scares begin, we are so invested in the characters, that even the subtlest of occurrences become nail-biting. Just as Ti West created a sense of dread in The House of the Devil, he wonderfully crafts a story of suspense in a haunted hotel setting.
If you find the opportunity to watch The Innkeepers in the rest of its little theatrical run or via On Demand, go for it. Even if the film doesn't scare you per se, it will at least be an enjoyable experience, simply because the characters are fun to watch.