W. P. Johnson

Who’s That Dressed In Black?

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2012 at 9:25 pm

The Woman In BlackRecently over the weekend I saw The Woman in Black, the newest offering of Hammer Films since their “revival”.  It’s difficult to call it a brilliant film or say that it was, if I can speak so snobbishly of the genre, “great”. There are a short list of horror films that I consider works of art: The Shining, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc. There’s also a pretty long list of horror movies that I absolutely love but I know that, deep down, they’re not all that great: Brainscan, WishMaster, and any of the schlock that is Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th. And yeah, some say that they were good in their inception, but to be honest, I don’t think I ever respected them as films in the way I do Jaws (if that can be considered horror), or Psycho. Halloween comes to mind as a film that almost does both- its a film I love, a film that’s fun, but also a film that’s close to being art as far as the genre goes.

Nightmare on Elm Street comes really close, but there’s just something about Freddy that detracts from the overall intelligence of the film. Its hard for a  work of art to have a antagonist that’s always cracking jokes while he’s killing teenagers.

Which brings me to the point of what horror fans all have in common, and that is this- we love ANYTHING that has to do with horror. Whether it be high art, a gory slasher film, or a poorly made monster movie. Case in point: Plan 9 From Outer Space, Troll 2, Frankenhooker. These are movies that are so clearly awful, so unrelentingly bad, they somehow transcend their awfulness into a greatness that only horror fans can appreciate. I don’t think there’s any other genre that can do that as well and as prolifically as horror does.

But back to The Woman in Black. To put it simply, while I loved the film and it had a lot of good scares (all the more fun shared in a packed theater)- it was merely good as a film. I don’t think it was brilliant, or a work of art. The Ring comes closer to pulling off the kind of fear and terror that The Woman in Black wanted to do, which is to say while both were scary, there’s something about The Ring that lingered. Maybe it was just how much stronger the story was in The Ring, or the acting. Daniel Radcliffe was certainly strong in his role as a nervous washed up lawyer, however his nervousness was so pervasive and constant that we never got to see any other side of him. The entire tone of the film was so unrelentingly creepy and spooky that it became somewhat exhausting. A good half hour spent in the haunted house left me feeling completely spent. And we weren’t even done dealing with this goddamn ghost!

Still… they got the tone down so well, it made for a hell of a scary ride. Maybe it didn’t stay with me for days, but it certainly lingered at night. As I tried to sleep, I couldn’t help but look in the corner of the room, finding shadows playing tricks on me.

On that same night my girlfriend woke up at some point, shouting “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.” She had had a nightmare about looking up a dark flight of stairs and a boy was walking down those stairs with the skin of his face in his hands while his skinned face bled down his chin. It was hard to find sleep the rest of the night.

And then days later, in texting with her, she had joked that she was going to sneak in to my bedroom and stand in the corner of the room, wearing all black. And that when I finally noticed her, she was going to run at me, screaming bloody murder.

That too, led to another bad night of sleep.

Still, I can’t help but smile at how afraid I was. I think its a sickness only other horror fans would appreciate.

Here’s to being scary.

-Bill

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