I might have laughed a bit at this.
I was…somewhat disappointed.
The beginning wasn't that bad. It starts out with three young girls having a tea party in an attic. Suddenly, they all look toward the window at once, then walk over, trance-like, and leap out. Good beginning.
We transition to DanRad, a.k.a. Arthur Kipps, telling his young son goodbye as he heads off to conclude the late Mrs. Drablow’s business at Eel Marsh House. On the way he meets the kind Mr. Daily, but when he arrives the villagers make it clear they don’t want him there, and the local lawyer even tries to have him driven straight back to the train station. Kipps, however, is determined, and goes to Eel Marsh House anyways, where he begins to notice strange things. And as his visit goes on, more and more children die in horrible ways…
This is where it starts to fall apart. In the book, it is certainly hinted that The Woman in Black is killing the village children. Yet it is only hinted at. The book maintains subtlety, having a few creepy moments lead up to the ultimate horror at the end. It maintains a low-key atmosphere. The villagers are simply xenophobic, which is pretty common even today in small places.
The movie blew subtlety out of the water.
The villagers aren't just xenophobic, they’re a creepy town with a dark secret that knows children will die. They even stand in the middle of the road, hoping to block the way to the house. Children aren't just hinted at dying. They are frequently shown doing harmful things, under the influence of She Who Must Not Be Seen. They drink lye and jump out windows and set themselves on fire and drown themselves in the sea. Mrs. Daily isn't just a nice lady married to Mr. Daily. She is a psychic whose dead son, killed by Ye Olde Witchy One, draws pictures through her and gives a creepy Trelawney-esque warning to DanRad. The Woman in Black doesn't just drift through the house and occasionally make creepy things happen while DanRad is staying there. She flies around making ghostly screams and her creepy little zombie son runs around muddily through the house and it’s just kind of silly.
That’s another thing. In the book, we don’t know how the Woman in Black makes horrible things happen. They just do, all seemingly accidental. A tipped over carriage, a precarious chair, etc. In the movie they shove it down your throat that she’s forcing the children to kill themselves.
I think this video is appropriate:
All in all, it wasn't that great. It started out strong, but it diverged from the low-key creepiness of the book, and turned into your run-of-the-mill horror flick.
2 out of 5.