ⓘ The Woman in Black (2012 film)

The Woman in Black (2012 film)

ⓘ The Woman in Black (2012 film)

The Woman in Black is a 2012 supernatural horror film directed by James Watkins and written by Jane Goldman. It is the second adaptation of Susan Hills 1983 novel of the same name, which was previously filmed in 1989. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, and Liz White. The plot, set in early 20th-century England, follows a young recently widowed lawyer who travels to a remote village where he discovers that the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorising the locals.

The film was produced by Hammer Film Productions, Alliance Films, Cross Creek Pictures and the UK Film Council. A film adaptation of Hills novel was announced in 2009, with Goldman and Watkins attached to the project. During July 2010, Radcliffe was cast in the lead role of Arthur Kipps. The film was planned to be shot in 3D before plans were scrapped. Principal photography took place from September to December 2010 across England. Post-production lasted until June 2011. It attracted controversy after receiving a 12A certificate from the British Board of Film Classification, despite several cuts being made.

The Woman in Black premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London before being theatrically released in North America on 3 February 2012 by CBS Films and Alliance Films and in the United Kingdom on 10 February 2012 by Momentum Pictures. The film received generally positive reviews with critics praising Radcliffes performance, cinematography, direction, atmosphere and homages to Hammers gothic horror films, calling it a "solid ghost story". It was also commercially successful, grossing $127 million worldwide.

A sequel, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, was released on 2 January 2015, without the involvement of Radcliffe, Watkins or Goldman.


1. Plot

In an English village, Crythin Gifford, in 1889, three girls are having a tea party. They suddenly look up at something off-screen and, appearing entranced, jump to their deaths from the bedroom window.

In Edwardian era London 1906, the wife of lawyer Arthur Kipps dies in childbirth.

Four years later, Arthur is instructed to visit Crythin Gifford to retrieve any documents left by Alice Drablow, the deceased owner of Eel Marsh House, an isolated and desolate estate on the marshland, as a prelude to the sale of the house. Upon arrival, Arthur finds the villagers unwelcoming, though he finds sympathy in wealthy local landowner Samuel Daily who invites him to dinner.

The next morning, Arthur meets Mr. Jerome who tries to hurry him away from the village. Undeterred, Arthur travels to Eel Marsh House. There, he is distracted by odd noises, a bolted nursery, and a spectral entity in funerary garb. He hears sounds on the marshes of a carriage and a screaming child, but sees nobody on the causeway. He later tries to alert the village constable who dismisses his concerns. Two children enter the station with their sister Victoria, who has ingested lye, but she dies almost immediately.

That night, Sam reveals that he and his wife Elisabeth lost their young son to drowning. Elisabeth suffers from fits of hysteria which she attributes to her son speaking through her. When Sam attempts to take Arthur to Eel Marsh the next day a gang of local men drive them off. Victorias father blames Arthur for her death, as Arthur saw "that woman" at Eel Marsh.

At the house, Arthur uncovers correspondence between Alice and her sister Jennet Humfry. Jennet demands to see her son Nathaniel whom the Drablows have formally adopted and barred her from contacting due to her being mentally infit to care for him, which she denies. A death certificate reveals Nathaniel drowned in a carriage accident on the marsh. Jennet writes that she blames Alice for saving only herself and leaving Nathaniels body in the marsh. Another death certificates shows that Jennet hanged herself from a beam in the nursery, vowing never to forgive Alice.

That night Arthur hears noises from the nursery, which is now unlocked. From the nursery window Arthur sees a boy crawling out of the ground and walking towards the house. He goes outside and sees dead children in the marshes, Victoria among them. Back in the house he sees an apparition of a woman hanging herself.

Sam picks Arthur up the next morning. In town, Jeromes house catches fire with his daughter inside. When Arthur attempts to save her, he sees the Woman in Black goading the girl into burning herself. The townspeople blame Arthur for this death as well.

At her sons grave, Elisabeth tells Arthur that the Woman in Black is Jennet, who claims the village children by having them take their lives in penance for her own son being taken. Arthur realizes that his son Joseph, who is coming to Crythin Gifford that night, is Jennets next victim. In an effort to lift the curse, Arthur and Sam find Nathaniels body in the marsh, and place it in his nursery, where Arthur lures Jennet to him. Arthur and Sam bury Nathaniel with Jennet, though her voice echoes through the house that she will never forgive the wrongs she suffered.

Assuming Jennet pacified, Arthur meets Joseph at the railway station. While bidding farewell to Sam, Arthur sees the Woman in Black lure Joseph onto the tracks. Attempting to save him, both he and Joseph are killed by the oncoming train. Sam, horrified, sees the ghosts of the village children and the Woman in Black.

The train passes and Joseph sees a woman in white on the tracks, whom Arthur identifies as his late wife Stella. The family is happily reunited as the Woman in Black looks on.


2.1. Production Development

The film was announced in 2009, with Jane Goldman as screenwriter and later James Watkins as director. Daniel Radcliffe was announced as the actor playing the part of Arthur Kipps on 19 July 2010. Two months later, it was announced that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 co-star Ciaran Hinds would join Radcliffe along with Janet McTeer as Mr and Mrs Daily respectively. Before filming, Radcliffe saw a psychologist so he could better understand his character. The part of Joseph Kipps was played by Misha Handley, who is Radcliffes real life godson.


2.2. Production Filming

The film was planned to be shot in 3D, but the idea was later scrapped. Principal photography officially started on 26 September 2010. The next day, Radcliffe was pictured in costume just outside Peterborough, England. In early October the crew was filming in Layer Marney Tower. Filming officially ended on 4 December 2010.

The exterior shots of Eel Marsh House were filmed at Cotterstock Hall near Oundle in central England. The fictional Nine Lives Causeway leading to it was filmed at Osea Island in Essex. The village of Crythin Gifford was filmed at Halton Gill, north of Settle in the Yorkshire Dales.


2.3. Production Post-production

At the Kapow! Comic Con in London during April 2011, director James Watkins confirmed filming had been completed in December 2010 and post-production would go on until June 2011. For its British release, several changes were made in order to qualify for a 12A certificate: Momentum Pictures, the distributor, arranged to have six seconds cut and for changes to other shots, with some scenes darkened and the sound level reduced on some others.

Despite the cuts, the 12A certificate was seen as highly controversial in the United Kingdom, and the British Board of Film Classification received 134 complaints from individuals that the rating was too low, the most complained-about film of 2012 according to BBFC figures. A cinematic re-release in October 2014, including a short clip from the forthcoming sequel The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, was given a higher rating of 15.


2.4. Production Music

The soundtrack for the film was composed by American film composer Marco Beltrami. It received positive reviews and was released as a soundtrack album on 12 March 2012 by Silva Screen Records.

All music is composed by Marco Beltrami.


3.1. Release Critical reception

The Woman in Black was met with generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 66%, based on 188 reviews, with an average rating of 6.09/10. The sites critical consensus states, "Traditional to a fault, The Woman in Black forwent gore for chills - although it may not provide enough of them for viewers attuned to modern, high-stakes horror." On Metacritic the film has a score of 62 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".


3.2. Release Box office

During opening weekend, The Woman in Black earned $20 million, the biggest US opening for a Hammer film in all of Hammer history, putting it at second place in the box office, behind Chronicle, which earned about $1 million more. This is significantly more than the $11–$16.5 million industry analysts predicted it would bring in. As of June 2012, The Woman in Black has made $127.7 million worldwide. The film also became the highest-grossing British horror film in 20 years.


4. Sequel

In April 2012, Hammer Films announced that there would be a sequel to The Woman in Black, which is titled The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. The official plot synopsis is: "During World War II, the London bombings force schoolteachers Eve Parkins Phoebe Fox and Jean Hogg Helen McCrory to evacuate a group of children to Crythin Gifford. When the refugees take shelter at Eel Marsh House, Eve soon comes to realise that they are not alone. The longer they remain there, the more the houses evil spirit threatens the children. With the help of a pilot Jeremy Irvine, Eve tries to protect the children and uncover the truth of the Woman in Black."

The original novels author Susan Hill helped with the story, with the screenplay written by Jon Croker. In October 2012, Tom Harper was announced as the films director. In April 2013, it was announced that Jeremy Irvine will play the lead role with rumors of Daniel Radcliffe briefly reprising his role from the first film, however Radcliffe ultimately did not appear in the sequel. It has also been announced that Phoebe Fox and Helen McCrory have been cast in the film as well. The film began the shooting process in early 2014.

The film was released on 2 January 2015 to moderate box office returns but a generally negative critical response.

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