February 22, 2012

The Woman in Black (1989)



"When a friendless old widow dies in the seaside town of Crythin, a young solicitor is sent by his firm to settle the estate. The lawyer finds the townspeople reluctant to talk about or go near the woman's dreary home and no one will explain or even acknowledge the menacing woman in black he keeps seeing. Ignoring the towns-people's cryptic warnings, he goes to the house where he discovers its horrible history and becomes ensnared in its even more horrible legacy."

As you may have already guessed, I have no absolutely no interest in watching Harry Potter in the 2012 version especially since it's another remake by the new incarnation of Hammer. Haven't they done enough damage to the Hammer name by remaking "Let the Right One In" and "Pet Sematary" (yes, I mean "Wake Wood")?

So, instead of getting myself ripped-off at the cinema by watching a story that I've already seen before (when it was shown on television over 20 years ago), I decided to watch the ITV version again. I wasn't stupid enough to pay over $125 for a DVD or VHS tape of it either since it's all over YouTube (at least for now).

I don't have a lot to say about "The Woman in Black". It's a ghost story, as you already know, a bit slow for most people's tastes, and it reeks of ITV trying to clone the more successful BBC's "Ghost Stories for Christmas". It even aired originally on Christmas Eve in 1989.

The way it was filmed made it look a lot like the M.R. James stories in particular, but it was just sort of soulless in comparison. Having a lot of recognisable TV faces probably didn't help much either especially David Daker who played the comedic Harry in "Boon" (1986) which I'm sure everybody watched religiously back in the day.

The acting was okay so the fault lies more with the story itself not really being all that interesting. Apart from one scene, it wasn't all that scary either but "that scene" is certainly up there with the little Glick boy floating through the window in "Salem's Lot" (1979) in terms of shit-yer-pants-scariness.


It appears that "The Woman in Black" was based on a book (and a stage play) by Susan Hill. I've never read it or heard of Susan Hill either before or since so I have nothing to say about that at all. Nigel Kneale of "Quatermass" fame wrote the screenplay and, to be fair, it's about as good as anything else he ever did.

The bottom line is that if you are in the mood for a period ghost story which looks a bit like "The Others" (2001) and even more like "Whistle and I'll Come to You" (1968), "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas" (1974) or "A View from a Hill" (2005) then you'll probably enjoy this one too.

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