Less is certainly more in The Woman in Black, a chilling film version of the novel by Susan Hill, which has been re-imagined as a television movie, a radio series and a hit stage play in the 30 years since its publication. Working from a screenplay by Jane Goldman, director James Watkins delivers a cinematic ghost train that plunges us into the eerie silence of a haunted house as the mutton-chopped hero nervously wanders corridors with a flickering lamp.

Expectations of unspeakable horrors around each darkened corner play havoc with our frayed nerves and Watkins orchestrates some nice scares, accompanied by deafening bursts of composer Marco Beltrami’s discordant score. The decision to forego dialogue to concentrate on old-fashioned horror traditions is refreshing and renders leading man Daniel Radcliffe mute for extended periods, which is no bad thing.

In his first major role since hanging up his wand as Harry Potter, the 22-year-old actor is as wooden as the creaky floorboards in the godforsaken mansion and as soulless as the titular spectre. His character’s emotional torment fails to translate from the script to his inexpressive face and it’s hard to accept Radcliffe as the doting father of a young son.

London solicitor Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is haunted by the death of his wife (Sophie Stuckey) during childbirth, and he seeks refuge in his love for their three-year-old boy, Joseph (Misha Handley). His work suffers as a consequence and his boss Mr Bentley (Roger Allam) makes clear the precariousness of his situation. To prove himself, Arthur is despatched to the remote village of Crythin Gifford where he must attend to the papers of the late Alice Drablow, the owner of Eel Marsh House.

The locals including innkeeper Fisher (Shaun Dooley) and his wife (Mary Stockley), try to ward off Arthur, advising him to “go home to your son — cherish him, love him”. But Arthur persists, with the help of local landowner Mr Daily (Ciaran Hinds) and glimpses a mysterious woman (Liz White) dressed all in black, who is blamed for the deaths of children in the village.

The Woman in Black opens with a chilling scene of three girls committing suicide by jumping from the window of their attic playroom, and continues to unnerve until Radcliffe speaks. Director Watkins’s centrepiece sequence in a bog leaves us gasping with air along with the characters.

Radcliffe’s failings are highlighted by lively performances from Hinds and from Janet McTeee as Daily’s deranged wife. The denouement errs heavily towards sentiment when much of the rest of the film has been permeated by dread.

The Muppets are back in a big-screen outing in which a muppet called Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) lives with his human brother Gary (Jason Segel), who is about to celebrate ten years with his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams). The trio visits Los Angeles where Walter discovers that scheming oil man Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to bulldoze the Muppet Theatre and drill for the black gold beneath.

The only way to thwart Richman is to rally the troops. So Walter galvanises Kermit (Steve Whitmire), Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson), Fozzie Bear (Jacobson again), Gonzo (Dave Goelz) and the gang into organising a televised appeal in the company of celebrity guests including Whoopi Goldberg and Selena Gomez.

This is a perfect family film with broad humour to appeal to all ages, interspersed with delightful ditties written by Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords including the exuberant Life’s A Happy Song featuring the lyric “Life is full of glee/With someone to saw/And someone to see!”

Segel and Adams embrace the ridiculousness of the premise with gusto, as when Kermit initially refuses to spearhead the telethon and she despairs: “This is going to be a really short movie!”

The addition of Kermit’s mechanised manservant, 80s Robot, sparks another moment of genius, when the little helper wonders: “Mr Kermit, may I suggest we save time and pick up the rest of the Muppets using a montage?”

Director James Bobin milks laughter and tears in generous, equal measures, leaving us hankering for more.