The big stumbling block for many will be the casting of Daniel Radcliffe as the main role or Arthur Kipps, a widower with a small child. I have to admit it is a little stretch to accept this. He still looks very young himself, and although I've never really been a Harry Potter fan, it is how we all see him. (I do regret not going to see him in Equus as I love that play - and the film - and would have been interesting to see him try to tackle something so challenging). I will concede that he won me over. There wasn't really any point during the film where he "pulled me out of the action" as it were. In fact, there is a whole stretch in the house where there is no dialogue, and only Radcliffe. Fair play to him, the boy did good.
The predicted "jumps" and spooky bits plastered all over the trailers still work in the context of the film, and some actually better. Trailer spoilers are a big bug bear for me with films like this, as these moments work not because they are just sudden noises (the good old "Lewton bus") but because they are built up to, you know they are coming, and it's the tension of waiting for them that makes them all the more enjoyable. Surely I'm not the only one who sits there thinking "make sure you don't jump" because I don't want the stranger next to me to think I'm soft! This film delivers these jumps successfully on more then one occasion. So, bravo to all involved.
The set design and locations are superb. It was wonderful to see versions of the famous "Angel of Sorrow" angels at either side of the mausoleum of Samuel Daily's young son. (My cemetery geek-ness never takes time off). Sound design is spot on, nothing too showy and brash, and the visual effects are not over the top either. A good old fashioned ghost story. It should carry a warning for those who have Victorian doll phobias though!
|an example of the "Angel of Sorrow" so you know what to look out for!|
Final thoughts - this could have been a disaster, and I'm sure there are many who hoped it would be, but it is actually a well made, genuinely scary film. I wasn't over keen on the end, but anyone who knows the material will know that that will always be a contentious issue. At least it didn't go for a Hollywood "everything is right with the world" spin.. Make sure you catch it if you get the chance... 8 out of 10.