In the current cinema landscape you gotta have balls the size of watermelons to try and pull off a PG-13 horror movie starring Harry Potter. Especially when it's the first movie actor Daniel Radcliff (a.k.a. Potter) makes after 10 years of playing the dorky boy wizard. That kind of typecast brand-recognition is hard to shake and Radcliffe, by all accounts, is the worst part of The Woman in Black. Although director James Watkins (Eden Lake, The Descent 2) might just pull it off despite him.
Radcliffe plays a widowed (very young looking) father sent to a creepy old stone house to go over some deceased lady's papers. It's all very English. Although visibly terrified local villagers repeatedly warn him, Radcliffe sticks around. He needs the job or else will be unable to provide for his son.
Ever the loyal father, yet forced to stay, he then finds himself smack in the middle of creepy-ass, mist-soaked, old school haunted house flick. Watkins builds unease and creepiness with a nice dose of J-horror (Ringu, Ju-on) and lots of peripheral lurking in a beautifully dreary Victorian setting.
The Woman in Black, opening Friday at Whistler's Village 8, has been out in the UK for a while and critics there are praising the supporting cast and trashing Radcliffe/Potter, but mostly agreeing this one is worth checking out. A haunted house can be done as PG-13 because ghosts don't require gore to freak people out. This is the first family horror film of the year but be warned, it's got dead kids in it.
The kids are alive and kicking in Chronicle however, and they are not to be messed with. Opening in both Squamtonia and Whistle-town, Chronicle is a teenage-fantasy flick about three high school buddies who develop super powers after being exposed to a glowing, mysterious hole in the earth. At first they play around with their new toy-powers, lifting chicks skirts with their minds and fun stuff like that, but then it all goes kind of Lord of Flies meets Cloverdale.
Chronicle is one of those "found footage" movies, Blair Witch-style, where the camera is part of the narrative. The good news is that since these kids have telekinetic powers the shots get steadier and cooler throughout the film — the camera literally just floats there, chronicling everything. (Like almost all found footage flicks, the question of who edited all this "discovered" footage always remains.)
All in all, Chronicle is a fun little sci-fi thriller that gives a real stripped-down look at the superhero/super villain origin story genre. That it's opening now, when studios usually dump their stinkers, only makes things better.
Squamish's Garibaldi 5 is also bringing in Steven Soderburg's high-octane female assassin movie Haywire staring ultimate-fighting babe Gina Carano as the rogue agent sold out by her superiors and out to knock some heads. Well worth checking out.
The last flick opening this week in Whistler is Big Miracle, a based-on-true 1988 story about a small-town arctic reporter and his Greenpeace ex-girlfriend trying to save some whales cut off from the open sea and end the Cold War at the same time.
Starring John Krasinski (Here We Go) and Drew Barrymore (who really hams it up) Big Miracle is a bit sappy but at least it tells the story of the whales, and the giant pre-viral media event they instigated, as a complicated issue with no black and white answers.
Are your kids gonna care or notice those finer details? No.