Book to movie review: “The Woman In Black”

If you guys have read my review of “The Woman In Black” you’ll know that I don’t scare easily when it comes to books, mostly because of a lack of imagination on my part. But that lack of imagination on my part is exactly what makes it so easy for me to be scared at the movies.

That bump…bump…bump that I just couldn’t form in my mind? Horrifyingly alive inside the cinema, and in Dolby Digital Sound too! That creepy shadow that I barely visualized in my head while I was reading? Creeping up on me on a huge ass screen!

Suffice it to say that the movie version of “The Woman In Black” scared the beejesus out of me. Of the P180 I shelled out to watch this movie, I probably only got to see about P100 worth of it. The rest of the ticket price I spent cowering behind either my bag or my hands.

But does the movie remain faithful to the book on which it’s based? Or has it deviated so far from the source material that it might as well have been called “Harry Potter and The Woman in Black”?

(Warning: Book and movie spoilers up ahead!)

“The Woman In Black” deviates early on from the book right at the very beginning of the film. While Arthur Kipps is still very much a bachelor at the start of Susan Hill’s novel, the movie!Kipps has already lost his wife, and is the sole parent to a four-year-old boy.

Even Kipps job security is at a more precarious state in the movie than it is in the book. While book!Kipps is a rising star at his firm, movie!Kipps is a perennial underperformer, and is being threatened with termination if he does not successfully finish the Mrs. Drablow assignment.

Those changes may not sit well with “The Woman In Black” purists (Are there any?), but they certainly made the movie flow much more logically than some of the passages in the book. The threat of financial insolvency certainly makes movie!Kipps insistence on continuing with his job much more believable, especially when compared with book!Kipps rather shoddy excuse for going on with his job.

The actual specter of the woman in black also makes for a much scarier presence in the movie than it does in the book. While she makes very public appearances in the book, in the movie she is a much more subtle creature, lurking in the small nooks and crannies of the film. These small appearances build up so perfectly in the viewers’ mind that by the time you get halfway through the film you don’t know which part of the screen you should be looking at.

If there’s any deviation that the film made which didn’t exactly improve the story, it was the now cliche “twist” of resolving the ghost’s issues only to find out it doesn’t really work. That worked well when “Ringu” first did in the late 90s, but it’s been more than a decade. It’s not exactly fresh anymore.

Nevertheless, the changes that the film made worked well and actually improved on some of the less than perfect aspects of the book. It may not be the most faithful adaptation, but it certainly wasn’t a substandard one by any stretch of the imagination.

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