The Woman in Black title

Tag line : Fear her Curse

The Woman in BlackThere are two types of horror film in this world. There are the sort that spray the screen with blood and guts, and then there are those that have you jumping out of your chair through careful use of atmosphere and tension. Though I am more partial to the former, I am not ashamed to admit that I also like the latter category, in which this film most definitely falls into.

Anyway, set in the early 1900's, Harry Potter... sorry, Daniel Radcliffe, plays Arthur Kipps. A widower who's been struggling to bring up his young son, whilst fulfilling his duties as a solicitor for a legal firm. With his job hanging in the balance, he's given an assignment away from London, to oversee the closure and sale of a remote mansion, who's owner recently died.

Travelling to the small northern village of Crythin Gifford, he finds the locals are none to receptive towards him and seem desperate to keep him away from Eel Marsh House at any cost. Notwithstanding, he bribes one of the locals to take him to the property, which is on old decrepit mansion,  located on an island in the middle of marshlands and only accessible at low tides. Of course, being a horror film, whilst he's there sorting through all the legal paperwork, he finds that he might not be completely alone.

Strange noises can be heard in parts of the house, strange shadowy figures can be seen in the background and at one point he thinks he sees the outline of an old woman outside, dressed all in black (and no it isn't Johnny Cash's wife). Soon afterwards, upon his return to the village, he is shocked to discover that a number of children have just died under mysterious circumstances and the locals seem to be blaming him for some strange reason.

It seems that there is some sort of curse on the village and every time someone sees this mysterious woman, a child dies shortly afterwards. Arthur and one of the locals, a chap named Daily (Ciaran Hinds), think that this is nonsense, but when they discover the true horror behind Eel Marsh house, find that the curse might be all too real...

Adapted from the book of the same name by Susan Hill and produced by the legendary "Hammer" films, I was initially unsure as to whether I would like this, as it was directed by James Watkins, who gave us the dreadful "Eden Lake". But was pleasantly surprised to find myself really enjoying it as it got going and that Watkins can actually direct decent film when he sets his mind to it.

This story is a classic gothic chiller, which boasts many genuinely creepy scenes and whilst I may be thoroughly desensitised to the effects of horror movies, am forced to admit that even I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up at times. So, if you like ghost stories, then you should love this. It's certainly more entertaining than those god awful "Paranormal Activity" movies at any rate.

Overall Marks : 7/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • Alternate tag lines "Do you believe in ghosts?", "What did they see?"

  • League of Gentleman writer and actor Mark Gatiss was originally asked to write the screenplay, but declined due to other work commitments.

  • The film's budget was $17,000,000

  • The clockwork toys and musical boxes used in the film were antique period toys loaned to the film by a collector.

  • Misha Handley, who plays Kipps young son Joseph, is actually Daniel Radcliffe's godson.

  • The Rolls Royce used in the film was a Silver Ghost, which was their first 40/50 Brake Horse Power model.

  • The film was cut slightly for its UK cinema release in order to secure a 12A classification. They also slightly darkened the picture and toned down the soundtrack during a couple of death scenes to reduce their impact. This slightly edited version was also released onto UK DVD and Blu-Ray.

  • In the original novel, Arthur Kipps was not a Widower and the story had a completely different ending.

  • The US release was of the original uncut version and was rated PG13.

  • The causeway and island where Eel house is supposed to be located was filmed at Osea island in Essex, the same location used in the 1989 version. However, the house itself was Cotterstock Hall, which is located in Northamptonshire, whereas the nearby village of Crythin Gifford was filmed at Halton Gill, which is located up in the Yorkshire Dales.

  • The German release used the edited UK version for its cinema release to secure a "12" rating, but used the uncut US version for the DVD and Blu-ray, which was rated "16".

Extra Info.

Cast & Crew.

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Other Recommendations.

Woman in Black (1989)


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