The Woman in Black was originally written as a book in the 80′s, was turned into a highly successful and still running play on the London show scene and has been made into a film. A solicitor is sent to Eel March House to sort out the papers of Mrs Alice Drablow who died recently. His life will never be the same again. The endings are different in the film, book and play but apart from that, which version is the scariest?
It’s a screamer – audiences shriek and then laugh nervously at their reaction. The film has all the hallmarks of a traditional horror script – eerie haunted house, dark corridors, creaking sounds and a playroom full of toys that somehow manage to subvert their innocence into something frightening. Although Daniel Radcliffe looks rather young to be the father of a child, the acting throughout is top-notch. What sets the film apart from the book and the play is its depiction of an isolated landscape, with wide bleak stretches of marshland and sea. It’s a huge, emotionally-charged canvas on which to play out your worst fears.
Being written in the first person gives an immediacy to the text, taking the reader through the experiences of the solicitor narrator. The descriptions are fulsome with every sense engaged. It is hard to put down and is therefore usually read quickly which leaves little space to release the tension. The prose moves on to an inexorable conclusion although the ending is perhaps somewhat abrupt. It’s a scary read so don’t pick up the book just before you go to bed.
The stage is bare with with a couple of props and a few actors. I sat there thinking ‘how on earth are they going to make this frightening?’ But they did. The acting is so good that the audience fills the empty stage with their own imaginings and the appearance of the woman in black is excellently timed and downright freaky. It is because the viewer is encouraged to work to fill in the gaps that the play becomes a personal response and therefore stays in the mind long after the curtain has come down. For me, this is the scariest medium in which to experience this remarkable story.
Whatever version you opt for, you will be left with a lingering sense of ghostly menace.
Take heart, Hard Luxe Living