Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Woman in Black - Did the PG-13 Rating Ruin my Movie Experience?

I love going to the movie theatre because there's nothing like watching a great film on the big screen. My favorite movie experience of all time was Grindhouse - Not only was the double feature awesome, but the audience was terrific as well. It was a midnight showing where everyone wanted to be there and enjoy some Tarantino / Rodriguez action. Although there were loud outbursts of laughter, shock, and disgust, it only enhanced the movie rather than hinder it.

However, I went to a film the other day and had the exact opposite experience: Teenagers were yelling, cussing, showing off, throwing popcorn, talking on cellphones, and playing with the houselights. Majority of the audience was either exuding of hormones or dreamy-eyed over Harry Potter . Although I'm trying to isolate my viewing experience from the content of the film, The Woman in Black was a weak horror film.

Before I become even more disgusted by my fellow audience members, let's go over the premise of this film directed by James Watkins: Daniel Radcliffe is a young lawyer who recently lost his wife. Although he is filled with sadness and pain, Radcliffe must go to another village and settle the estate of a dead woman. When he visits the house, Radcliffe sees a terrifying ghost, The Woman in Black. A sighting of this evil spirit brings nothing but a dark omen - Young children of the town kill themselves. These deaths are horrific, ranging anywhere from jumping out of two-story windows, drowning themselves in the bottom of a lake, or incinerating their bodies in a blazing building. With the townspeople blaming Radcliffe for plaguing their children, will he be able to solve the Woman in Black's mystery before it's too late to save his own son?

I thought this film particularly suffered from having a weak and convoluted storyline. There was really no character development and it was never clear what loose ends Radcliffe had to tie up in the haunted house. The strongest points were the costuming, lighting, and set design. Set in Old England, the film's darkness and texture carried the presence of the old Hammer films. But despite the creepiness of the possessed toys reminiscent of Poltergeist, all of the horror relied on cheap scare shots and loud noises.

Now, this probably isn't a fair statement, but I believe I would have enjoyed this film a lot more if it was rated R. Would it have kept immature adolescents away from my presence? Yes, but I was expecting more thrill and scare. I've seen both The Ring and The Grudge (both PG-13 films) on the big screen and they both conducted enjoyable movie experiences. These films had enthralling stories and a dark ambiance to keep their audience entertained. I know I'm ranting, but with the exception of being Radcliffe's first film after Harry Potter, this movie has no elements of cult status.

So on Death List Five, The Woman in Black ranks #2.

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