So once I had read the book, I stayed away from information about the movie as much as possible. This was not my first book-to-movie adaptation, and I have learned that going in with fewer expectations leads to a better movie-going experience. All I saw was the trailer with the very creepy monkeys and creepy-little-girl poem (As an aside, why was it read by a girl with an American accent?) and I shut myself to everything else after that. No featurettes, no “Next up on the BBC, it’s Daniel Radcliffe!” and absolutely no movie reviews.
On the Friday of the movie release, I went out for dinner with my fiance and some very dear friends to celebrate my birthday. Despite some pasta-heavy meals and mousse-y dessert, we settled down in the theatre with snacks and waited for the lights to dim.
I must say, putting a trailer for The Raven starring John Cusack before The Woman in Black was definitely a way to get the fangirl happiness going. Unfortunately, this gothic little bubble was promptly popped by a row of teenage girls near the front of the theatre who will be going to the “special hell” for talking incessantly during the first twenty minutes of the film. But they shut up, thanks to my darling Melissa who made it very clearly that a continuation of their chatter would lead to their asses being grass and Melissa being the lawnmower.
Rant over, I can now get to the actual bit about the movie.
Having recently become older and wiser, I of course understood that things get changed when they move from page to screen. I will go so far as to say that sometimes these changes are for the better (even though a lot of the time they are not). This applies to The Woman in Black.
There was a fairly substantial change to the sequence of events that I didn’t mind, but being that it wasn’t an improvement on the book, one begs why the change needed to be made at all. The ending, too, was changed, and I was quite prepared to really like it until the terror-factor, which had been paced so well until then, fell short. There was definitely room for something more sinister, I think, and my Christopher (who has not read the book) thought so as well.
Mostly, though, the spirit of the book remained spine-tinglingly intact. I had a certain chutzpah that I never have when I watch horror movies, and I am proud to say that I never looked away from the screen once. It was, technically and artistically, a fine film to watch that used its sparseness to great effect.
I knew that Daniel Radcliffe would be brilliant. I had the privilege of seeing him out of his Harry Potter glasses (and his pants…) when I was in London several years ago and he was starring in Equus, so I knew he definitely had the skill to play Arthur Kipps. (I also found it fascinating to watch him completely at the mercy of the supernatural, having grown up watching him Expecto Patronum lots of baddies into oblivion.) The rest of the movie was well-cast as well, with Ciaran Hinds as Mr. Samuel Daly and many wide-eyes and terrifying children playing the cannon fodder.
As I said in my post on the novel, this story separates itself by having a ghost who is just vengeful, and in a violent and heartless way. Catering to her “unfinished business” is not enough. Nothing is enough, and I think that is a large part of what captured the imagination of this writer.