Last night my Love Film DVD arrived and it was the adaptation of Susan Hill’s wonderfully gothic novel The Woman in Black.
I loved this book, thought it was suspenseful and exceptionally well plotted. Arthur Kipps is a young, successful lawyer with all in front of him (in the book) he’s engaged to the woman he loves and is given an assignment to head North to a lady’s house, Eel Marsh House, to go through her paperwork as she has passed away with no living relatives. The village he goes to is bustling, there’s a county fair or market or some such activity is going on, it’s sunny and lovely but dark in places which makes for such a stark contrast when Arthur heads to Eel Marsh House.
The book is clever, suspenseful and the subtle, it has the right amount of contrast between light and dark to make it a brilliant read. Sadly the film is no where near as good.
I didn’t go and see it in the cinema as I was worried I’d be scared (am a bit of a wimp) but I needn’t have worried. It was almost comical how overdone it was. The beauty of the book is the contrast, the effect’s wrought on young Arthur from his visits to Eel Marsh House are all the more striking because he was happy and robust in the first place. In the film, he’s such an emotional wreck before he goes there, that it’s a surprise he even makes it halfway through the film! The town is dark and dank, full of foreboding and people telling him to turn back. The introduction begins with death and continue apace with blunt hatcheted terror, no finesse here, no subtlety.
I’m not one to continue to compare book to film, film to book but my level of disappointment here was so high that I found it hard not to. Who knows maybe the play is better…