Sometimes the movie is better than the book
TODD MILLER | Colligeo Writer
I noticed the book “The Woman in Black,” while
looking for books to read last week. I recognized
the title as it is the same as one of the movies
coming out this week. It seems that the book of the
movie was released back in the 1980s and seemed
to surprise people of its existence when I mentioned
it to them.
So in the spirit of movies based on books, I
partook of both to create this joint-review.
The story of both follows the young lawyer
Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe, in the fi lm) who
is sent to Eel Marsh House of Crythin Gifford to
settle the affairs of the deceased Alice Drablow. In
the book, Kipps leaves behind his fi ancé, whom he
pines for throughout the trip. In the movie, Kipps
has been married and widowed, and he has a young
son who will join him in Crythin Gifford at the
end of the week. That’s where I hit a bit of strife
between the two.
If Radcliffe had played the Arthur Kipps of
the book, I would’ve accepted how youthful he
looks and is. However, in the movie, he has been
engaged, married, been through the death of his
wife and raised a son to the age of 6, yet Radcliffe
as Kipps does not look appropriately aged— he still
appears to be 22. Of course, that is possible, but in
the cutscene of his child’s birth, they didn’t make
Radcliffe look 16 either.
Anyway, while Kipps is in Crythin Gifford, he
sees the townsfolk acting mysteriously toward the
Eel Marsh House and a mysterious woman is seen
there. Kipps stays at the house and he is haunted by
frightening noises and several times sees a woman
dressed all in black.
Early in the movie (though late in the book),
we learn of the “curse” of the woman in black.
Whenever anybody sees her, no matter how briefl y,
a child in the village dies by some means. Although
this line is said identically in both sources,
it’s played up a lot more in the movie. In fact, the
movie is a lot more dramatic than the book ever
was. The book tends to ramble (as the narrator is
Arthur Kipps himself several years after the events
of the book), and can get rather dry and boring at
times. But the movie (with no fl ashback narrative)
is pretty saturated with drama. There are several
on-screen children’s deaths in the movie, while the
book barely has one.
The movie certainly lives up to its genre title of
a horror. Although I’m not the sturdiest of people, I
did fi nd myself quite tense during some parts of the
movie, more often in the fi rst half of the fi lm. The
second half is a lot nicer and doesn’t throw in jump
scares for the hell of it, allowing the terror be atmospheric
(rather than “Oh, let’s startle them good.”)
The book, though, wasn’t frightening at all. It was
unnerving in a couple of spots, and I was concerned
for Kipps, but throughout the book, I kept fi nding
myself getting bored with the narrator’s tangents.
The movie did look good, though. The scenes
felt real and complete and seemed to fi t the time
period well (even if they replaced all the light
switches in the book with candles). There was a
lot of nice playing with light and color that really
helped build the mood.
I am a little disappointed in some part of the adaptation
of book to fi lm. While I could understand
why some of it was done, for the sake of time, there
were other things that just didn’t seem necessary
such as, in the movie, all the villagers blamed Kipps
for the children’s deaths, adding more drama to the
fi lm. This wasn’t even an issue in the book (where
most of the people in the village empathized and
liked Kipps). There was also one scene in the last
quarter of the fi lm taking place in the marsh itself
that I equated more to an action movie than a horror
movie because the tension was shifted toward the
action of the characters rather than the mood being
built around them.
Interestingly, both book and movie had unexpected,
but quite different, endings. It doesn’t mean
I liked them, but I thought it was worth noting.
Both managed to surprise me while being entirely
different from one another.
Reading the book isn’t required for seeing the
movie or vice versa. The book is rather dry and
boring at times, but isn’t a horribly bad read. The
movie is an excellent horror fi lm, even if there’s
a lot of unnecessary drama built into it. I will say,
though, that I enjoyed reading the book just before
seeing the movie. I think it helped build on some
of the contents of the movie. But like I said, not a