The Woman In Black: A Ghost Story – Written by Susan Hill
The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story is a very eerie, Edgar Allan Poe type story. With very little dialogue, Hill relied solely on intense detail and the thoughts of our main character and narrator, Arthur Kipps. While the story was interesting and, at certain parts, I felt slightly disturbed, it just was not very scary.
What happens to Arthur Kipps in The Woman in Black is definitely terrifying and at points I found myself wondering if he was simply going crazy. However, I did find the story very slow-moving and without much of a plot. Since this is narrated by Kipps as he writes a manuscript of the events, he is constantly referring to how terrible things end up getting for him, and sets you up for this very horrific moment. But, at 130 pages, nothing intense and scary happens until the end and, even then, I did not feel as gripped with fear as I wanted to be. The title is followed with the statement “A Ghost Story” and, although there was a ghost, it wasn’t as bone-chillingly frightening as I had anticipated.
The Woman in Black, while a well-written novel, should not be lumped in the “horror” category. Just because the story has to deal with a haunting or a ghost does not necessarily make it ‘horrific.’ The book was a genuinely easy read that I finished in a few short days but at no point did it actually scare me. I was disappointed and expected much more from a well-regarded horror novel.
“The Woman In Black” – Directed by James Watkins
My expectations for the film were not very high. After watching a number of jump-out-of-your-seat trailers, I got the feeling that every scary scene was shown in the previews and none were saved for the film. I was right. I hate when horror films do that! Exploiting the scariest moments of the movie not only boost the film into failure, but it is almost false advertising. Like the book, “The Woman in Black” was not so much scary as it was suspenseful, and it was represented and marketed all wrong.
The opening scene of “The Woman in Black” set me up with high hopes; it was disturbing and mysterious, which supported the soon found superstition of the Eel Marsh House. As far as staying true to the novel, there was a blatant disregard for the supporting system of Susan Hill’s original story. While basically all of the same things happen, Arthur Kipps’ story is totally different. He loses his wife to childbirth and is a single father to a 4-year-old at the movies onset. There is no manuscript being written, with the story developing as a creepy retelling, and the ending is 100% different (and stupid.) However, when this happens in other films it irks me, with this I didn’t mind so much. I felt the changes with the adaptation were appropriate and didn’t actually change the meaning of the story–it is just supposed to be a ghost story after all.
I do have to give credit to Daniel Radcliffe who did so much with so little dialogue. His emotions did come across on screen well. My one qualm with casting Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps is that he looks so ridiculously young. It is hard to take him seriously as a father, interacting with all of these adults, while he looks like a boy himself. Nevertheless, his acting has come a long way and this was an interesting role for him. That being said, there was nothing Radcliffe could have done to help this film. The ‘scare’ moments that were saved for the film were pretty weak and I found myself laughing at the movies end.
My final thoughts on “The Woman in Black” as both a film and novel is that it could have been better. I wanted to be frightened more and the story had such potential, but the movie was really silly and boring. If you didn’t see the trailer, perhaps it will be slightly more frightening, just don’t expect too much out of it.
Mook Rating – ★1/2