This week we'll be revisiting some familiar territory, though we've only grazed it lightly of late, seeing it in combination with other concepts or odd environments. Gather everyone into the parlor, stoke up the fire to a roaring blaze, and gather close into the flickering light. Hand out the brandy snifters, and prepare a couple of mugs of 'flip. Ol' uncle Ebeneezer will be enthralling us with one of his famed Lonely Ghost Stories...
The Silent Figure: The Woman In Black (2012, 95 minutes) (I'd originally intended to show this with a little known flick called The Woman in White, but that's proved near impossible to track down.) While this film adaptation has only been around for a little over a year, the play upon which it's based is practically an institution. First premiering on London's West End in 1989, it's been running continuously ever since, becoming the second-longest non-musical run for a play in the city's history (behind, naturally, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap). I was even told by a Londoner on the plane that it was a tradition at his school for the teachers to take the entire class out on a field trip to see the play. Which is all the more remarkable, as the play is set in the Victorian era, and involves only two actors. This film adaptation has only a slightly larger cast, but is still seen almost entirely through the solitary experiences of the widowed Arthur Kipps, played by Daniel Radcliffe. (...does this mean that Hermione didn't make it?) He arrives at an ancient, moor-bound manor to catalog the accounts left by the deceased owner, but his own grief seems to have stirred up a nasty local legend. A figure in black with a strange affinity for children... While the film was widely lambasted for a... less than tragic ending that is apparently not in keeping with the original play, I found it, at the least, an interesting and unexpected twist. Surprisingly nasty for a stage adaptation (though not nearly as bloody as Sweeny Todd so don't get your hopes up), this is a very well executed atmospheric piece.
The Weeping Angel: The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012, 80 minutes) Another enormously short-staffed piece! Those who have been coming to movie night for a bit are likely to remember the short piece The Eyes of Edward James (which we may watch again, considering how short this week's flicks are). That oddly dreamlike, highly atmospheric piece was directed by one of the regular Canadian writers at RueMorgue Magazine, Rodrigo Gudino. This film represents his first feature attempt, and never let it be said he tried an easy subject. With a main cast of only two people (and one, the Vanessa Redgrave, present only in voiceover), we are treated to a haunting film about family, religion, and the influence of the dead upon the living. A man in his late 20's returns to the home of his estranged mother after her death, to find it overfilled to bursting with strange religious iconography... and possibly something else. Dealing weirdly with angel and candle magic ideas, the film's real star is its amazing sound design. Seamless integration of soundtrack, effects, and beautifully balanced atmosphere weigh more and more heavily on the audience as the film proceeds. Although I can't say that I appreciate the film's thesis, revealed in the movie's final moments, I won't deny the amazing craft that went into it.