Quite a lot of how I felt about The Woman in Black had to do with the atmosphere in which I watched it. I can happily confirm that I enjoyed it, but suspect that I would have enjoyed it much more under other circumstances (which I will because I liked enough to add it to my must buy list); but more of that anon.

Background:

I like a good scary movie. I love a good Hammer film. I have on occasion been too freaked to continue watching (I’m looking at you, Christopher Lee in Curse of Frankenstein) but I’ve seen enough of them and their rivals at Amicus to know that I like the style. I have read Susan Hill’s novel at least twice. I watched the 1989 TV adaptation in which Pauline Moran scared the living daylights out of me (and why can’t you get this on DVD? C’mon telly people, sort this out). So this new version had a lot to live up to but it was a story I loved and I was predisposed to enjoy it.

Context:

The Book God and I decided that it would be a good idea to go and see this on Valentine’s Day so we toodled off to our local Odeon and were slightly surprised to see a lot of people, most of them teenagers, whom I naively assumed were waiting to get into The Muppets screening next door. But no. They were all waiting to see TWIB because I had forgotten two things: the impact of Twilight and The Daniel Radcliffe Effect. For yes, the teenage audience was made up of young couples on a date (red roses much in evidence) and teenage girls wanting to see young Harry all grown up. And that meant stage whispers, nervous laughter and screaming at anything sudden on screen whether it was frightening or not. So all of my remarks about the film need to be seen in the context of a middle-aged woman turning into her mother on the spot and on one occasion turning to the young couple behind me and telling them to sit still and keep quiet.

Yes, this is what I have become.

The Film:

Having said all that I saw and heard enough to know that I really did like the film. It had some good scares, a strong supporting cast (step up Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer), good atmosphere and lovely visuals. There were times when I really felt I was watching an old Hammer movie with lanterns and open graves and handsome young heroes trying to put things right.

The Woman herself was suitably creepy and although the story had been changed a bit I didn’t mind too much at all. Daniel Radcliffe did a pretty good job, I think, but when he smiles he still looks about twelve and for that reason I couldn’t quite see him as the father of a four-year old. But when he was facing up to supernatural nastiness he was great.

This is the third ghost story I’ve seen in the past few months and its interesting to compare them. The Others is full of paranoia, The Awakening is imbued with loss and sadness, but The Woman in Black is soaked in malevolence and evil. Together they would make an excellent Hallowe’en triple bill. My heart probably couldn’t stand it though. Because despite what one of the teenage girls said walking into the screening, it may only be a 12A but it can be scary.

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