The Horror Honeys: Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady in Black...

Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady in Black...

A Supernatural Honey Double Shot Review by Suzanne

The Woman in Black – original (1989) vs remake (2012)

We live in a world where remakes, sequels, and prequels abound. On rare occasions, sequels can enhance the original story and on even rarer occasions, remakes equal or rival the original. Unfortunately, in 98% of these cases, it’s all an unnecessary ploy to make more money. Remakes are generally dumbed down and given a PG-13 rating to pull in younger viewers, while a myriad of sequels get bloodier in order to sustain a franchise with a reboot not far behind. In the end, younger generations are missing out on classic originals that, even without the technological advances in special effects, are far superior to their contemporary counterparts.

I think about this kind of shit a lot because I detest most recent horror and can’t be bothered with the litany of sequels unless I’ve got absolutely NOTHING to watch and it’s easily accessible on Netflix. With the recent articles on the sequel to the remake of The Woman in Black (yes, that DanRad movie is a remake), I’m trying to decide if I’m angry about it or if I simply don’t give a shit. I’m leaning towards the latter, but while I make up my mind, I’d like to do a little comparison. For those of you who didn’t realize there was an original Woman in Black movie, you’re missing out.

Both movies are based on the book of the same name, written by Susan Hill. It’s the story of Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer trying to make a name for himself at his firm. When Arthur is sent to settle the estate of a reclusive old woman, Mrs. Drablow, in the seaside town of Cryphin Gifford, he finds the locals to be not so welcoming, especially when they discover why he is there. He decides to ignore all warnings and put himself up at Eel Marsh House, the estate in question. 

Mrs. Drablow was shunned due to her associated with an evil spirit, AKA, the woman in black. Throughout the course of both films, we discover that the spirit is the ghost of Mrs. Drablow’s sister who, after the death of her son, lured children to their deaths or caused the death of a child after she is seen by the parent.

The original film was made in 1989 for British TV. Adrian Rawlins stars as Arthur, but in this version, they’ve changed his last name to Kidd. Arthur has a young wife and two small children, much to the dismay of his boss, who thinks Arthur isn’t serious about becoming a partner in the law firm. That is when he’s sent on this career building assignment.

For the 2012 remake, Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur. In this version, Arthur is mourning the loss of his wife and trying to care for his young son. He is sent to settle the affairs of Mrs. Drablow in one last ditch effort to save his job.

This may surprise most people, but I actually don’t have any major issues with the Hammer-produced remake. It’s actually a more faithful adaptation of the book. However, where the original film uses the English seascape, light, and sound to create a dreary and foreboding atmosphere with genuinely scary moments, the remake relies too heavily on jump scares, overdone sets, and CGI to get its point across. I suppose that shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering that’s a big gripe with most current horror films.

The remake also digs much deeper into the backstory of Eel Marsh House and its history, giving the story a bit more substance than the original. Arthur’s interaction with the people of the town is also more of a focus.

Both films end tragically and are not in keeping with the source material, but the remake’s ending is almost a happy ending, at least for Arthur as his family is whole once again, even if that means it’s in the after-life. WTF?

Both Rawlins and Radcliffe do a fine job in their respective leads, but Rawlins is more believable as a father and husband. Sure, Dan has star power and it was a nice departure from his tenure as Harry Potter, but he was simply too young to pull off the level of maturity needed for the role.

So who wins? In my opinion, I prefer the original for its ability to creep you out without relying on special effect fuckery. BUT… I do feel like the remake tells the story a little more completely. Each one has something the other needs.

As far as rating them, well, I give them both 3.5 haunted nurseries out of five.  

WIB Fun Fact: Adrian Rawlins had a recurring role in the Harry Potter series as James Potter, Harry’s dad.