Hammer returns with a bang with The Woman In Black, a well-structured and well-told tale of ghostly goings-on.

Thanks to a wildly popular stage show, and a pretty impressive 1989 TV version, chances are a lot of the possible audience for this will go in with a strong understanding of what to expect.

And it is to director James Watkins’ and lead Daniel Radcliffe’s credit that the movie never feels as though it is going through the motions.

Hammer has had a few misfires since its much-anticipated rebirth – we had the generally poor The Resident, the good but little-seen Wake Wood, and the very good but poor performing Let Me In.

So it is encouraging to see this has already done well at the US box office, with similar results expected on these shores.

For those that have no idea what The Woman In Black entails, Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a struggling lawyer who is still haunted by the death (during child birth) of his wife.

Kipps is in last-chance saloon with his job, and is offered the chance to redeem himself when he is sent north to Crythin, a remote village on the coast.

The lawyer is asked to go over the paperwork and tidy up the loose ends regarding a-now vacant mansion after the death of its owner.

But Kipps soon finds himself dragged into a sinister and spooky tale as evidence of child suicides, apparitions of the titular character and a whole host of heavy-handed villagers ratchet up the tension.

And it is in the form of tension that Watkins’ offering scores highest – I would not exactly say the film is a scarefest, and there is a lot of telegraphing of shocks going on through a booming soundtrack.

But the moments of subtlety work well, and the numerous scenes of Radcliffe creeping along some dimly-lit corridor do have you on the edge of your seat.

Having bludgeoned audiences with the gory, but excellent, hoody-horror Eden Lake a few years back, Watkins flips the coin this time around and the restraint really marks him out as a horror director to be reckoned with.

Radcliffe also delivers the goods, holding centre stage for the bulk of the film’s running time and doing a solid job.

Still young he may be, but he is certainly believable as a young father searching for answers.

There is also solid support from the likes of Ciaran Hinds and the gaggle of villagers just about stay on the right side of stereotype.

The production looks great as well, with nice period detail and locations.

In fact the whole thing is a pretty polished package, and if it proves the infusion of success that Hammer so dearly needs, then I am more than happy with that.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.