28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
One of the most chilling films ever made,
This review is from: The Woman In Black [VHS]  (VHS Tape)
I first saw this film when it was shown on UK television in 1989.
Not having read the book, I watched what I thought would be an average, made for tv, ghost yarn. How pleasant,therefore, nearly fifteen years later to be able to pen my thoughts about what is one of the most chilling and effective films that the genre has ever produced.
Set in the 1920s, a young solicitor - Arthur Kidd (played by Adrian Rawlins), is sent up from London to settle the estate of a recently deceased elderly woman. His destination is a small UK seaside town, just outside of which is the house of the deceased woman. His mission is less than enthusiastically received by the locals, who for the most part avoid the house in question like the plague. Set in salt marshes, the house which is called Eel Marsh House, is only accessible via a traitorous causeway at low tide. Once there, he learns of a high incidence of child mortality in the town, and starts to see the mysterious and frightening figure of a woman dressed entirely in black, of whom the locals are fearful and loathe to even discuss. Are the two connected? You bet your life they are, and when Arthur Kidd saves a young child in the market place, the hatred of this mysterious and terrible woman in black is then directed at him.
From then on, beset by strange events and terrible noises from both inside and outside the house, Arthur's sanity starts to deteriorate...
The film works to such terrible effect due to its simplicity. SFX are convincing but minimal. The Woman In Black only makes four appearences throughout the film, each one is increasingly scary though. I can recall few films, where a ghost has been depicted as so utterly evil and malevolent. The black shape when depicted on screen just seems to suck in the light around it and palpably emanates hatred. Anyone who has seen this year's 'The Grudge' may see some similarities in the depiction of the ghosts but 'The Woman In Black' is the more frightening. The film has a scene involving an appearence of the ghost to Arthur Kidd, which just flies off the Richter Scale for utter fear.
Adrian Rawlins is superb as Kidd, portraying him as a gentle, loving family man, and mildly cocky young solicitor who becomes increasingly distressed and unstable, as the events surrounding him become ever more unpleasant and terrifying.
Those of a nervous disposition or who are easily scared, are not recommended to watch this because of its high octane terror content. Equally if you are expecting a gore fest then forget it. This film is a supremely chilling experience to watch, and has THAT scene in it which will make your hair stand up on end.
A friend of mine recently viewed the dvd on my recommendation and this is what he had to say about it:
"Although there was only 2 scary scenes in there it's actually got in my head, you'll probably laugh but I was actually scared to go to bed last night and so I stayed online with my girl friend until 4 am. I had to wake up at 9 am today so I was exhausted getting up!
Also when I went to bed I didn't dare walk across the room in darkness so I put my TV on standby and had my head under the covers cause I couldn't get her face out of my head. There was also another incident downstairs where I made myself a coffee and somebody had turned all the lights out, so I almost had a panic attack and ran to the light switch.
Also I showed some of it to my sister's boyfriend and it freaked him out. I read on a review about the bed scene so I was expecting it (although I didn't expect it to be quite as it was) I dread to think what it would have done if I wasn't expecting it.
Oh and a colleague at called me a big kid at work today cause she asked why I looked so tired and on edge and I told her."
I do like my footnotes on these reviews, so lets not make an exception here... For afficiendos of 'The Woman In Black' there is supposed to be a slightly longer version (101 mins I believe) which apparently shows a fifth appearence of the ghost through a window? I have not actually seen this but this version is reputed to be around on earlier vhs releases of the film.
A word of caution for those wanting to buy this film on DVD. There was only ever one official DVD release (and since deleted) and that was in North America on Region 0. Any DVD claiming to be Region 2, new etc is going to be a fake on a cheap and nasty DVD-R which will almost certainly develop sound and pixelisation problems. Be warned.