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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Harry Potter and the goth chick


You know a film like this is working when the audience visually jump and the audience I viewed the film with did indeed jump, several times. Shit, I even spilled my popcorn at one point!

It’s a creepy, old fashioned ghost story and it works well, keeping the viewer enthralled throughout. Based on the novel by Susan Hill, the film offers Daniel Radcliffe his first major role since the Harry Potter franchise wrapped up on the final J K Rowling adventure.

Susan Hill’s ghost story has been adapted for radio and TV, and a stage version has been running for more than 20 years in London’s West End. Like Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, Hill’s story is part of a succession of supernatural yarns planned to be told around the fireside at Christmas, but the narrator considers it too terrifying for the festive season and writes it down to be kept for a more fitting occasion. Jane Goldman’s screen adaptation for the revived Hammer studio has dispensed with this framing device. Instead, the young Edwardian hero, an inexperienced London solicitor, is dispatched right at the start to a flat, swampy coastal area of the Midlands to settle the affairs of a recently deceased widow, Mrs Drablow. For some reason he’s called Arthur Kipps after the draper’s assistant in HG Wells’s Edwardian novel Kipps, and he’s played in a sad, subdued manner by Harry Potter. The movie often feels like classic Hammer with superstitious local refusing to talk to Harry Potter and warning him to return to London as no good can come of him meddling in local affairs. It’s great to see an intelligent horror movie that doesn’t rely on gore or effects to get its scares across. The film is atmospheric and Harry Potter’s performance is pitch perfect – he plays Kipps as a sad man, his facial expression as desolate as the landscape around him.

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