I went to the cinema on opening night in Glasgow to see this film, and have to admit to hiding my eyes! Me? Big tough horror-lover? Yup, scared me shitless, I must admit! So, I kept my reviewing for the DVD so that I could watch it without my fingers in my way!
Daniel Radcliffe stars as Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor in London, who's wife passed away in childbirth. He feels haunted by his departed wife's spirit, but he soon finds out how it really feels to be haunted when he is sent to deal with the estate of the late Mrs. Alice Drablow in a small English country town.
Mrs. Drablow has passed away, leaving the large house and estate empty... or so they think. Kipps is sent to put the papers into order and sell the house. He leaves his nurse and young son (played by Radcliff's godson, Misha Handley) in London while he goes to Eel Marsh house.
Kipps meets Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds) on the train. Hinds plays the role of the local landowner tremendously and very closely to the book's character. His wife, Elizabeth Daily (Janet McTeer) is diferent to the book, a little more crazy and with psychic powers... but on the whole it adds to the story.
Hammer did extremely well to set the scene. The whole film feels very authenic, rustic even. The villagers are suitably suspicious and private. If only they had warned him better! Unfortunately, this is not the case, they warn cryptically and we all know how that goes!
The house is out on the marshes and can only be accessed while the tide is out. The road to the house is called 'Nine Lives Causeway' - an awesome name if you ask me! The road is treacherous and cuts the house off from the rest of the world. Arthur is doomed from the get-go, even before he notices the woman's spectre.
The ghost is extremely well capured. She is like an onryō ghost seen usually in Japanese stories. She can appear anywhere, often sneaking up in the background before jumping out from the foreground.
Kipps uncovers the terrible secret of the Drablow household and the ghostly inhabitants of Eel Marsh house; Alice's sister, Jennet Humphrye, had a child out of wedlock. Her son was taken from her and raised by her sister, while she was locked in the house, believed to be insane. Her son died in tragic circumstances in a terrible carriage accident on the marshes while she stood helplessly and watched from her window. This accident is replayed over and over on the marshes in the form of a horrific ghostly loop.
The feel to the movie as a whole is very classic Hammer, but the modern special effects and clever camera work make it a truly engaging and terrifying watch.
The Woman's ghost is usually a precursor to the terrible death of a child. She is seen in the very start of the film, which is truly haunting, causing three young girls to plunge to their deaths from the attic window, the very room where Kipps is housed for the first night of his stay. The children's deaths are striking, and some gruesome, but not ridiculously bloody, which I appreciated.
The ghost is fierce, angry and unrelenting. She menaces Kipps throughout the film, and she cannot be sated.
The eerie setting, minimal conversation and excellent camera and sound work bring Susan Hill's fabulous book to life! You will find yourself on the edge of your seat. And Radcliffe secures himself in the main role, not a hint of Harry Potter in sight. A very good, tense and deep performance.
Unlike the original film, Hammer makes you read and look with minimal character voiceover. No wax cylinder recordings here!
A very worthwhile film, it is full of jumps and shocks to keep you entertained.
The best of it is, things go bump, but not just in the night. I find even the busy scenes when Kipps and Daily attempt to end Jennet's terrible haunting, don't ruin the film.
I highly recommend this film for a good tense scare! Hammer are back!
[Picture: Hammer Films]