In the early 1900s, young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is sent to a remote village to go through the papers of a recently deceased old woman. He finds the villagers oddly hostile, yet sets about his work in the woman’s creepy, old house. There, he begins to unravel the story of a mysterious woman believed to haunt the place.
If you’re looking for a scary movie, look no further. There are scares every four minutes or so once Arthur starts (voluntarily and studpidly) exploring the house, endlessly going from dark room to dark room while the eerie music and sound effects build to get-ready-to-shriek levels. The movie has little dialogue, with Arthur alone most of the time just looking for the ghost.
This kind of alone-in-the-house part is usually played by a beautiful, helpless, young woman but Radcliffe does a good job, coming off as serious, mature, and not too scared of the dark. If you saw the movie without sound, it probably wouldn’t be nearly as frightening, so a great deal of credit must go to the music and sound effects. Ciarán Hinds is good in a rather undemanding, supporting role. The titular character disappointingly resembles a mannequin in a high school haunted house.
The movie makes the most out of people’ primal fear of the dark and genuine shocks come on a regular (one might say, predictable) basis. I found the movie just a bit unsatisfying, though, because the story is unrelentingly unpleasant and Arthur's character is stoic to the point of being remote.