Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

I decided to read The Woman in Black because it was going to be Daniel Radcliffe's first film after Harry Potter .  I knew nothing about the book besides the fact that it was a ghost story.  When I went to see Breaking Dawn, The Woman in Black was one of the previews.  It looked REALLY scary and I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

The book starts out with a family getting ready to celebrate Christmas.  As part of their tradition, all of the children gather around the fire and tell ghost stories.  The children try to convince their father to tell a story, but he is overcome by the situation and steps out of the house for a while to regain his composure.  While outside he resolves to put down in writing what he cannot put into words, the real life ghost story he experienced while in his early 20s and working as an attorney.  At this point I was excited about where this could be leading, but ultimately it did not live up to my expectations.

The first 100 pages were very slow for me.  First we learn that Mrs. Drablow has passed away and that Arthur will have to go to Eel Marsh House to settle her estate.  Whenever he mentions the owner or the house to the people around town, nobody will discuss it with him.  Arthur becomes increasingly agitated by the apparent lack of respect for the deceased.  When he attends the funeral, he is one of only 3 people in attendance.  When he refers to The Woman in Black that he saw at the grave site to others, they become very distressed.  There was a lot of setup such as this before the ghost story truly began.  The last 40 pages were a bit more exciting as we experience the hauntings of Eel Marsh House, but I never once had the feelings the movie trailer conjured up.  Clearly Hollywood is taking some liberties with this one, and for Radcliffe's sake I sure hope they do. 

My thoughts on the movie:
Since I was lukewarm on the book (I only gave it 2 stars on Goodreads) and I am not usually one for scary movies, I decided to wait until I could get the movie from the library.  I was pleasantly surprised.  This is one instance in which the movie was MUCH better than the book.  If I were to rate it with the same standards I use on Goodreads, I would give it 4 stars.

They changed the storyline from the very beginning.  Everything is set in the present, so they eliminated the Christmas scene and flashback.  They also added more detail to the events that happened in the town when someone saw "The Woman in Black", which added suspense and made the film much scarier than the book.

I thought Radcliffe did an excellent job of playing Arthur.  This film was drastically different from his role as Harry Potter, but he pulled it off brilliantly.  His fear was believable and it did not come across like your average horror flick. 

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