Widower Arthur Kipps is tasked to arrange the sale of Eel Marsh House and resolve all of the paperwork belonging to the deceased owner, Alice Drablow. Being treated coldly by the town’s residents and finding the empty house somewhat unsettling, Arthur decides to get the job done as quickly as possible so that he can leave and be reunited with his young son. However, he soon finds that the children of the town are dying and a mysterious figure of a woman seems to follow him wherever he goes.

The Woman In Black (2012) – Director: James Watkins

Is The Woman In Black appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 95 mins

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer

Genre: Horror

REVIEW

Based upon the novel of the same name by Susan Hill, ‘The Woman In Black’ was produced by Hammer Film Productions , thus ensuring a standard of horror that audiences recognise. Being set in the past (Edwardian England) creates a positively spooky atmosphere of a time when ‘bumps in the night’ were seemingly commonplace and unexplainable. The movie centres around Arthur, a man who has only a tenuous grip on his grief over the death of his wife. Needing to be strong for his son and receiving a warning from his sympathetic but impatient employer causes Arthur to stay at Eel Marsh House despite feeling that it is a dangerous place for him to be. The lack of warmth from the local townsfolk lets him know that he is not welcome and adds to the reasons for him to leave as soon as possible.

In his first role following his huge success as ‘Harry Potter’, Daniel Radcliffe proves that he isn’t a one trick pony. Playing the part of Arthur, which is worlds apart from Harry, shows his talent as a serious actor and not just for roles that are aimed at a young audience. Ciarán Hinds is a solid co-star as Sam, Arthur’s only ally who is dealing with a terrible tragedy of his own.

The success of ‘The Woman In Black’ shows that audiences enjoy a good, spooky ghost story which is full of edge-of-your-seat suspense. The movie is well-paced and the suspenseful moments always have a pay off, unlike some similar movies which rely heavily on making the audience jump with little to actually show for it. ‘The Woman In Black’ has all the ingredients needed for a horror film so look no further if you’re looking for a good scare!

IS ‘THE WOMAN IN BLACK’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

It is very difficult to describe the potentially unsuitable content of this movie without spoilers, we will therefore give detail where necessary but will generally describe the tone of certain scenes to give parents a good idea of what to expect.

The opening scene of the movie shows 3 young girls (around the age of 9) playing in an upstairs room of a house. They then stop suddenly and stand up; without talking or looking at each other, they walk to the window and jump out of it. As the scene fades to black, a scream can be heard downstairs, indicating that the girls are dead.

When Arthur is introduced to the story, he talks to his son who shows him a picture that he has drawn. This shows the two of them standing together with his mother as an angel in the sky. Arthur has a flashback of when his wife died in childbirth; he tries to go to her but the doctor stops him, telling him that she is dead.

When Arthur spends any time at Eel Marsh House, there is a general sense of uneasiness with lots of bumps and creaks in different rooms. There are several times where figures can be seen watching him that move or disappear whenever he looks in their direction. Towards the end of the movie a woman is seen to hang herself in the house; this happens on-screen but the camera cuts away quickly and no suffering is shown.

While he is looking through the paperwork, Arthur finds a death certificate for a 7-year-old boy, the cause of death is described as ‘drowned in marshland, body was not recovered’. Another death certificate is found later in the movie, the cause of death being ‘Self Murder’ and the description reads ‘body hanging from beam’. Arthur also finds some letters which he reads through and the writer’s voice can be heard reading them. This voice is that of a woman who speaks quietly and seems a little unhinged. As Arthur progresses through the letters, the voice becomes more and more unstable and aggressive; she clearly hates the person who she is writing to. This could be quite disturbing for younger children.

The tension increases every time Arthur is in the house and the figures are seen more often. One room in particular is more haunted than anywhere else. If a child is too scared during Arthur’s initial visits to the house, it is unlikely that they will be able to watch the rest of the movie without distress.

One character in particular could be quite frightening for children as they seemingly become possessed by their dead child. This happens twice and they change suddenly after talking and acting normally; kids may not fully understand what is going on.

One young girl is taken into the town and has drunk lye (a toxic substance). Her face is very pale and she coughs up blood. It is later made clear that this girl dies. Another child sets themselves on fire, the camera shows the girl being engulfed in flames but no suffering is seen and it is not gory.

During one scene, Arthur is standing outside the haunted room that we mentioned previously. As he looks out into the corridor, the lights progressively turn out as they get closer to him.  He then sees the figure of a woman who rapidly flies towards him. This whole scene is very tense and scary.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

Despite the term ‘horror’ evoking the current trend for over the top gore and gratuitous torture, ‘The Woman In Black’ is a satisfying reminder of what good suspense and atmosphere can do. As Radcliffe is most well-known for his role of Harry Potter, it is understandable that many people would think that this is a movie for kids to watch, however this is definitely not a kids horror film.

While this movie shouldn’t be distressing for children in terms of graphic content and gore, the amount of suspense and glimpses of ghosts are likely to be too frightening for kids under the age of 10 (this is the very youngest that we would recommend it for). Caution is advised for children who are susceptible to having nightmares when they see something scary.

  • Violence:  0/5
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (the children of the town have been dying for some time and several of these deaths are seen during the film. This is obviously devastating to their families but the emotional distress is kept to a minimum)
  • Fear Factor: 4/5 (lots of prolonged suspense, ghostly figures are seen regularly and appear to be malevolent, following Arthur around, even when he is unaware of their presence)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5       
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (the voice that reads out the letters is full of hate and swears revenge on those who have done her wrong)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of the loss of loved ones, families, grief, the supernatural, revenge and aggression brought on by mental illness.

Words by Laura Record

The Woman in Black [Blu-ray]


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