The big story about this movie is whether or not Daniel Radcliffe can break away from the character he's played for most of his life and be able to take on other roles in a believable manner. I suppose the fact that I have even brought this up may provide some answer to that question.
'The Woman in Black' is a decent enough movie with a few thrills and chills here and there but does suffer from some repetitiveness that gets old quickly. I mean, is he really going to go upstairs to see what that ominous noise was....again?! Now he's upstairs and, as he looks out the window, sees something (or someone) that makes him go running back down and out the door to see what it was...again!
The basic story here is of a lady who had her son taken away who then dies under questionable circumstances so she killed herself and is now killing off the children of the local towns folks. For some reason she only does this when somebody sees her, otherwise she just lays low at the house she lived in which is on a secluded island just off the coast that can only be reached when the tide is low.
A young lawyer named Arthur (Radcliffe) is sent to the town by his law firm to square away the legal proceedings regarding the sale of the big, creepy house that the woman in black lives in since the remaining family is now dead. Having had his wife die in childbirth several years prior seems to give him some connection to this town and the scary ghost lady although only in the sense that he believes his wife is still hanging around and watching over him.
You can fill in the blanks regarding the rest of the story without too much trouble as it all plays out pretty much as you would expect. One thing I was happy with was that there was no real laughable moments where everything gets absurd and out of control. Director James Watkins did a good job at keeping the mood slow and creepy, and the minimalist approach regarding special effects helped keep the focus on the tension and creepiness that makes the story work.
I'd say the real star of the movie was the big, creepy house with all of the cobwebs and dark corners you'd ever want as well as lots of fun horror movie decor like dark curtains, creaky rocking chairs, and antique looking candle holders everywhere. Ciarán Hinds was the only other actor I recognized and he did a fine job as he usually does.
As far as Daniel Radcliffe moving away from being 'you know who', I just couldn't pull myself away from that mental image of him with the round glasses and scar on his forehead. Even outside of that, he just seemed out of place among everyone and every thing else in the movie. He is a good actor, so hopefully he can 'break the spell' that has doomed so many others who get locked in to that one iconic role.