Back when I was...15. I'm pretty certain I was 15. I went on a school trip to a theatre in London, as part of our Drama course, to see 'The Woman in Black'. I didn't really know what to expect, I just loved school trips of any kind so of course I would go. The play turned out to be a horror story...an effective one. That in particular stands out in my mind, since by that age (thanks to Metal Gear Solid 2) I had already found myself not being easily scared.
So I was more than amazed, although somewhat unsurprised, when I heard that trailers had been showing for its movie adaptation. I saw the trailer and found myself a little disappointed. It was so...common denominator. I decided I would watch the movie anyway, so that I could compare it to the play. I can delightfully report that the film actually trumps the play.
Like the play, the film plays with the audience. In the play, you rarely see the titular woman in black at all, with most of her 'appearances' being shadows or self-moving props. In the film, glimpses of the woman being in the same room and/or scene as the chief protagonist Arthur, incites dread in the audience (myself included) while poor Arthur is just bewildered. What I also found amusing was how the dog was used in both film and play adaptation: while the dog was completely imaginary in the play yet very real in the film, he would just randomly disappear for no reason for long sequences in both versions.
Some of the key things I noted about the film were actually the differences from the play version. In all fairness, both are based on the novel by Susan Hill, which I've never read, so I honestly couldn't tell you which version is closer to the original. Ultimately though, it doesn't matter. If you enjoy ghost stories with tons of atmosphere, watch this movie. Or play.
There were also 2 things I noted that I found humorous: 1) the film received funding from the UK Film Council, which has now been scrapped, so this is no doubt one of the last projects to get green lit. 2) Despite it being very scary, I enjoyed a wonderful night's sleep afterwards!
I also realised something else: this is the 2nd genuinely scary film I've gone out of my way to watch in 5 months. The first is the Japanese film 'Sweet Home', which wasn't frightening but has great atmosphere and a hard-to-predict plot, and what scary or creepy moments there were, were done very well. Sweet Home is a damn hard to find movie, so just watch it on Youtube like I did.