She’ll Never Let Go…The Woman in Black

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”

© Hammer Film Productions

From the 28th of June 2012 The Woman in Black is available to rent and buy on DVD & Blu-ray and currently running on Sky Movies, Virgin Media Movies, and online movie sites.

There is nothing more enchanting than sitting down of a winter’s evening to an old fashioned ghostly fable. Audiences have always been aroused by tales of the supernatural in every medium and seem to enjoy being made to jump with fright at the dark eerie creaking echoes, dusty china dolls and malevolent forces lurking in the shadows lusting to harm innocent people.

The Woman in Black tells the story of young lawyer and single father Arthur Kripps, who is summoned to sort through the personal papers of the recently deceased Mrs Alice Drablow at her isolate mansion. Tim Maurice-Jones (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) provides the film’s cinematography, the setting for Eel Marsh House is at the end of a long causeway surrounded by marshland, the house only accessible at certain times due to the rapidly changing weather conditions; the sea mists (also referred to as frets) engulf the causeway making the way forward near impossible and your grisly fate inevitable. Marco Beltrami’s (3:10 to Yuma) musical score helps create the perfect dreary atmosphere, you hardly notice the music but it is essential to building up the moments of tension.

The film opened in cinemas on February the 10th 2012 and immediately topped the UK Box Office list; over the first three days of its release it earned £3.1 million, making The Woman in Black, Hammer’s Films biggest ever success.

Daniel Radcliffe (the Harry Potter films) clearly is the film’s biggest attraction in terms of starring actors; he is now considered a “grown up” in film terms and rightly so, his performance as Arthur Kipps in The Woman in Black really shines in the darkness. Ciarán Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) provides a paternal and reassuring slant on the only friendly Crithin Gifford resident Mr Daily. Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) plays his troubled and seemingly clairvoyant wife Elizabeth with a subtle and tactile madness.

The screenplay was penned by Jane Goldman (Stardust, The Debt) and is more of an enhancement than an adaptation; the story loses nothing in atmosphere, some elements of the book would not take kindly to such a transition. The one element that certainly translates from book to film is every character is dealing with the confusion and bereavement of loss, and the theme of decay is carried through to the end with  the films’ shocking conclusion.

Directed beautifully by James Watkins (Eden Lake), the film doesn’t sell out to the modern horror genre. This is a film the fits in well with the bygone 1950’s Hammer days. It has been confirmed that screenwriter Jon Croker (Ealing Comedy) is developing a sequel, the next instalment of the story is written by the original author Susan Hill and is set 40 years after the first film’s events, The Woman in Black: Angels of Death promises to be as chilling and gripping.

The tale of The Woman in Black has been haunting us for 30 years, the original novel by Susan Hill was published in 1982 and the stage adaptation has been running at London’s Fortune Theatre since 1989,  the second-longest-running play in the West End’s history after Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.

Central TV Productions made an adequate version of the novel for television in 1989, but it has always perplexed me why The Woman in Black hadn’t made it to the larger silver screen much sooner? Perhaps something scared it away? Who knows?