The Woman in Black (2012 film)

The Woman in Black is a 2012 British-American-Swedish-Canadian supernatural horror film directed by James Watkins and written by Jane Goldman. It is the second adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 novel of the same name, which was previously filmed in 1989. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role, alongside Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, and Liz White. The plot is set in early 20th-century England and follows a young, recently widowed lawyer who travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorising the locals.

The Woman in Black
British theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Watkins
Produced byRichard Jackson
Simon Oakes
Brian Oliver
Screenplay byJane Goldman
Based onThe Woman in Black
by Susan Hill
StarringDaniel Radcliffe
Ciarán Hinds
Janet McTeer
Liz White
Music byMarco Beltrami
CinematographyTim Maurice-Jones
Edited byJon Harris
Distributed by
Release date
  • 24 January 2012 (2012-01-24) (Royal Festival Hall)
  • 3 February 2012 (2012-02-03) (North America)
  • 10 February 2012 (2012-02-10) (United Kingdom)
  • 27 April 2012 (2012-04-27) (Sweden)
Running time
95 minutes[2]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States[3]
  • Sweden[1]
  • Canada[3]
Budget$15 million[4][5]
Box office$127 million[6]

The film was produced by Hammer Film Productions, Alliance Films, Cross Creek Pictures and the UK Film Council. A film adaptation of Hill's novel was announced in 2009, with Goldman and Watkins attached to the project. During July 2010, Radcliffe was cast in the lead role of Arthur Kipps. The film was planned to be shot in 3D before plans were scrapped. Principal photography took place from September to December 2010 across England. Post-production lasted until June 2011. It attracted controversy after receiving a 12A certificate from the British Board of Film Classification, despite several cuts being made.

The Woman in Black premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London before being theatrically released in North America on 3 February 2012 by CBS Films and Alliance Films and in the United Kingdom on 10 February 2012 by Momentum Pictures.[7] The film received generally positive reviews with critics praising Radcliffe's performance, cinematography, direction, atmosphere and homages to Hammer's gothic horror films, calling it a "solid ghost story".[8] It was also commercially successful, grossing $127 million worldwide.

A sequel, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, was released on 2 January 2015, without the involvement of Radcliffe, Watkins or Goldman.


In an English village, Crythin Gifford, in 1889, three girls are having a tea party. They suddenly look up at something off-screen and, appearing entranced, jump to their deaths from the bedroom window.

In Edwardian era London 1906, the wife of lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) dies in childbirth.

In 1910, four years later, Kipps is instructed, as a last attempt to keep his job, to visit Crythin Gifford to retrieve any relevant documents left by Alice Drablow, the deceased owner of Eel Marsh House, an isolated and desolate estate on the marshland, as a prelude to the sale of the house. Upon arrival, Arthur finds many of the villagers rather unwelcoming, especially at the local inn owned by the Fishers. Mr. Fisher refuses to give Arthur room & board, even though it was prearranged by Arthur's job. Mrs. Fisher convinces her husband to let Arthur stay the night in the attic, the same room where their three daughters died. Local wealthy landowner Samuel Daily (Ciarán Hinds), whom he met on the train ride over, takes pity on him and invites to dinner at his home.

The next morning, Arthur goes to meet his legal contact, Mr. Jerome, who tries to hurry him away from the village. Arthur, undeterred, pays a local to take him to Eel Marsh. The local man tells Arthur that he will not be able to pick him up for a few hours due to the rising tide over the single pathway to the house. While exploring the inside of the house Arthur is distracted by odd noises, a bolted nursery, and the appearance of a spectral entity in funerary garb. He hears sounds on the marshes of a carriage in distress and a screaming child, but sees nobody on the causeway. Upon his return to the village Arthur attempts to alert the village constable of what he heard in the marsh, only to be dismissed. Two children enter the station with their sister Victoria, who has ingested lye, but she dies almost immediately afterwards.

That night during a dinner visit to the Daily's home, Sam reveals that he and his wife Elisabeth (Janet McTeer) lost their young son to drowning. Elisabeth suffers from fits of hysteria, which she attributes to her boy speaking through her. During the dinner in one of her fits Elisabeth draws an image on the dinner table of a woman hanging. When Sam attempts to drive Arthur to Eel Marsh the next day, a fleet of local men attempt to drive him off. Victoria's father blames Arthur for his daughter's death, as Arthur saw "that woman" at Eel Marsh.

Sam gives Arthur a bag filled with candles and food, as Arthur plans on spending the night at Eel Marsh. Sam also lets his dog stay with Arthur for company. Arthur uncovers correspondence between Alice and her sister Jennet Humfrye (Liz White). In her letters, Jennet denies Alice's verdict that she is "mentally unfit" to take care of her son, Nathaniel, and demands to see him, as the Drablows have formally adopted him, and barred her from contact. A death certificate reveals that Nathaniel drowned in a carriage accident on the marsh. The letter reveals that Jennet blames Alice for saving only herself and leaving Nathaniel's body in the marsh. The death certificates reveal that Jennet hanged herself from a beam in the nursery, vowing never to forgive Alice. Arthur once again hears odd noises throughout the house and discovers the sound is coming from the nursery, which is now unlocked. Through the nursery window Arthur then sees a silhouette of a boy crawling out of the ground and walking towards the house. Hearing intense banging at the front door, Arthur goes outside in a thunderstorm and sees dead children in the marshes, Victoria among them. Back in the house Arthur sees an apparition of a woman hanging herself.

The next morning Sam picks Arthur up from Eel Marsh and Arthur tells him about the night's events. In town, Jerome's house catches fire with his daughter still inside. When Arthur attempts to save her, he sees the Woman in Black goading the girl into burning herself. The townspeople blame Arthur for this death as well. Sam takes Arthur back to his home to keep him away from the village people

At her son's grave, Elisabeth cryptically tells Arthur that each time the woman in black is seen a child dies. Elisabeth becomes possessed by her dead son, who explains that the village children are being taken (committing suicide) by the woman in black as penance for her own son being taken. Arthur realizes that his son Joseph, who is coming to Crythin Gifford that night, is Jennet's next victim. In an effort to lift the curse, Arthur and Sam find Nathaniel's body in the marsh, and place it in his nursery, where Arthur lures Jennet to him. Sam is lured into another part of the house by the ghost of his dead son, who locks him in a room. Arthur and Sam bury Nathaniel with Jennet, though her voice echoes through the house that she will never forgive the wrongs she suffered.

Assuming Jennet pacified, Arthur and his son Joseph meet at the railway station. While bidding farewell to Sam, Arthur sees the Woman in Black lure Joseph onto the tracks towards an oncoming train. Though he attempts to save him, both Arthur and Joseph are killed by the oncoming train while a horrified Sam sees the spirits of the village children, and the Woman in Black.

After the train passes, Joseph spots a woman in white on the tracks, and Arthur identifies her as his late wife Stella, the family now happily reunited, as the Woman in Black looks ominously on.


  • Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer
  • Ciarán Hinds as Sam Daily, local landowner
  • Janet McTeer as Elizabeth Daily, Daily's wife
  • Liz White as Jennet Humfrye, the Woman in Black
  • Roger Allam as Mr. Bentley, senior partner of Arthur's firm
  • Tim McMullan as Jerome, the local solicitor
  • Jessica Raine as Joseph's nanny
  • Daniel Cerqueira as Keckwick, the carriage driver
  • Shaun Dooley as Fisher, village innkeeper
  • Mary Stockley as Mrs Fisher
  • David Burke as PC Collins, village constable
  • Sophie Stuckey as Stella Kipps, Arthur's wife
  • Misha Handley as Joseph Kipps, Arthur's son
  • Aoife Doherty as Lucy Jerome, Jerome's daughter
  • Victor McGuire as Gerald Hardy, a villager
  • Alexia Osborne as Victoria Hardy, Hardy's daughter
  • Alisa Khazanova as Alice Drablow
  • Ashley Foster as Nathaniel, the Woman in Black's son
  • Sidney Johnston as Nicholas Daily, Daily's son

Liz White's character is never referred to as "The Woman in Black" inside the film or during the credits, where she is listed as "Jennet".



The film was announced in 2009,[9] with Jane Goldman as screenwriter[9] and later James Watkins as director.[10] Daniel Radcliffe was announced as the actor playing the part of Arthur Kipps on 19 July 2010.[11] Two months later, it was announced that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 co-star Ciarán Hinds would join Radcliffe along with Janet McTeer as Mr and Mrs Daily respectively.[12] Before filming, Radcliffe saw a psychologist so he could better understand his character.[13] The part of Joseph Kipps was played by Misha Handley, who is Radcliffe's real life godson.[14]


The film was planned to be shot in 3D,[9] but the idea was later scrapped.[15] Principal photography officially started on 26 September 2010.[16] The next day, Radcliffe was pictured in costume just outside Peterborough, England.[17] In early October the crew was filming in Layer Marney Tower.[18] Filming officially ended on 4 December 2010.[19]

The exterior shots of Eel Marsh House were filmed at Cotterstock Hall near Oundle in central England. The fictional Nine Lives Causeway leading to it was filmed at Osea Island in Essex. The village of Crythin Gifford was filmed at Halton Gill, north of Settle in the Yorkshire Dales.


At the Kapow! Comic Con in London during April 2011, director James Watkins confirmed filming had been completed in December 2010 and post-production would go on until June 2011.[20] For its British release, several changes were made in order to qualify for a 12A certificate: Momentum Pictures, the distributor, arranged to have six seconds cut and for changes to other shots, with some scenes darkened and the sound level reduced on some others.[21]

Despite the cuts, the 12A certificate was seen as highly controversial in the United Kingdom, and the British Board of Film Classification received 134 complaints from individuals that the rating was too low, the most complained-about film of 2012 according to BBFC figures.[22] A cinematic re-release in October 2014, including a short clip from the forthcoming sequel The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, was given a higher rating of 15.[23]


The Woman in Black Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
LabelSilva Screen Records
ProducerMarco Beltrami
Marco Beltrami film soundtrack chronology
The Thing
The Woman in Black Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Trouble with the Curve

The soundtrack for the film was composed by American film composer Marco Beltrami. It received positive reviews and was released as a soundtrack album on 12 March 2012 by Silva Screen Records.[24][25]

All music is composed by Marco Beltrami.

1."Tea for Three Plus One"1:40
2."The Woman in Black"1:56
3."Crossing the Causeway"2:24
4."Bills Past Due"1:22
5."Voices in the Mist = Journey North" 
7."Cellar Eye"2:49
8."First Death"2:00
9."The Attic Room"1:56
10."The Door Opens"1:46
12."You Could Have Saved Him"2:58
13."Crazy Writing"2:16
14."In the Graveyard"2:56
15."Elisabeth's Vision"3:40
16."Into the Fire"3:57
17."Jennet's Letters"2:12
18."Race to the Marsh"2:11
19."Rising From the Mud"3:13
20."Summoning the Woman in Black"4:27
22."Arthur's Theme"2:46
Total length:55:24


Critical reception

The Woman in Black was met with generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 66%, based on 188 reviews, with an average rating of 6.09/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Traditional to a fault, The Woman in Black forwent gore for chills—although it may not provide enough of them for viewers attuned to modern, high-stakes horror."[26] On Metacritic the film has a score of 62 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[27]

Box office

During opening weekend, The Woman in Black earned $20 million, the biggest US opening for a Hammer film in all of Hammer history,[28] putting it at second place in the box office, behind Chronicle, which earned about $1 million more.[29] This is significantly more than the $11–$16.5 million industry analysts predicted it would bring in.[30][31] As of June 2012, The Woman in Black has made $127.7 million worldwide.[6] The film also became the highest-grossing British horror film in 20 years.[32]

Home media

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 18 June 2012 in the United Kingdom,[33] and was released in the United States on 22 May 2012.[34]


In April 2012, Hammer Films announced that there would be a sequel to The Woman in Black, which is titled The Woman in Black: Angel of Death. The official plot synopsis is: "During World War II, the London bombings force schoolteachers Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) and Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) to evacuate a group of children to Crythin Gifford. When the refugees take shelter at Eel Marsh House, Eve soon comes to realise that they are not alone. The longer they remain there, the more the house's evil spirit threatens the children. With the help of a pilot (Jeremy Irvine), Eve tries to protect the children and uncover the truth of the Woman in Black."

The original novel's author Susan Hill helped with the story, with the screenplay written by Jon Croker.[32][35][36] In October 2012, Tom Harper was announced as the film's director.[37] In April 2013, it was announced that Jeremy Irvine will play the lead role with rumors of Daniel Radcliffe briefly reprising his role from the first film,[38] however Radcliffe ultimately did not appear in the sequel. It has also been announced that Phoebe Fox and Helen McCrory have been cast in the film as well. The film began the shooting process in early 2014.[39]

The film was released on 2 January 2015 to moderate box office returns but a generally negative critical response.

See also


  1. Felperin, Leslie (25 January 2012). "The Woman in Black". Variety. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  2. "The Woman in Black (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  3. "The Woman in Black (2011)". BFI. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  4. Dawtrey, Adam (2 March 2012). "Hammer nails coin from next gen". Variety. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  5. "Video: Daniel Radcliffe sheds Harry Potter image at The Woman In Black premiere". The Telegraph. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  6. "The Woman in Black (2012) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  7. The Deadline Team. "Release Date Moves: Searchlight's 'The Descendants', CBS Films' 'The Woman In Black'". Deadline.
  8. Ryan, Tim. "Critics Consensus: The Woman in Black is a Solid Ghost Story". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  9. "3D Version of the Woman in Black Coming from Hammer". 4 November 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  10. "Hammer Options Rights to Famous Horror Novel "The Woman in Black"". 1 February 2010. Archived from the original on 24 November 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  11. "Daniel Radcliffe to star in The Woman in Black". BBC News. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  12. Martyn Conterio (8 September 2010). "Two More Actors Set To Join 'The Woman in Black'". Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  13. Kristy Kelly (20 September 2010). "Daniel Radcliffe 'prepares for Black role'". Daily Spy. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  14. "Chris Evan's Breakfast Show". 10 February 2012. BBC Radio 2. Missing or empty |series= (help)
  15. Russ Fischer (27 September 2010). "First Look: Daniel Radcliffe in 'Woman in Black'". /Film. Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  16. "Hammer's official Twitter account". Twitter. 7 September 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010. via @RoomofRadcliffe @hammerfilms Have heard that The Woman in Black starts filming on Sept.26! Can't wait to see this!!
  17. "Daniel Radcliffe pictured in The Woman in Black". Telegraph. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  18. "Layer Marney News: The Woman in Black". Archived from the original on 24 September 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  19. "Hammer's official Twitter account". Twitter. 4 December 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011. On this day in 2010, production wraps on THE WOMAN IN BLACK.
  20. "Kapow! Adrian reports in on Hammer's The Woman In Black and more genre goodies!". 10 April 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  21. "The Woman in Black". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 11 February 2012. In addition to the 6 seconds of visual cuts, substitutions were also made by darkening some shots and by reducing the sound levels on others.
  22. "'Woman in Black', 'Men in Black 3' top BBFC ratings complaints list in 2012". DigitalSpy. 11 July 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  23. "THE WOMAN IN BLACK PLUS ANGEL OF DEATH FIRST LOOK". BBFC. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  24. Southall, James (6 April 2012). "The Woman in Black". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  25. Paton, Atila (13 March 2012). "The Woman in Black". SoundTrack.Net. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  26. "The Woman in Black (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  27. "The Woman in Black". Metacritic. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  28. Barry, Vic (6 February 2012). "The Woman In Black has highest ever opening for Hammer". The Movie Bit. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  29. Smith, Grady (6 February 2012). "Box office report: 'Chronicle' earns a super powerful $22 million on Super Bowl weekend". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  30. Subers, Ray (2 February 2012). "Forecast: 'Chronicle' To Crush Super Bowl Weekend". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  31. "Weekend Predictions: 'Chronicle,' 'The Woman in Black' and 'Big Miracle'". 1 February 2012. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  32. "'The Woman in Black' Sequel Moving Forward". Fused Film. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  33. "The Woman in Black [DVD]". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  34. "The Woman in Black (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] (2012)". Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  35. Newman, Nick (2 April 2012). "'The Woman in Black' Gets Sequel Treatment, 'Angels of Death'". The Film Stage. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  36. Miller, Jenni (2 April 2012). "'The Woman in Black' Becomes a Frightening Franchise with 'The Angels of Death'". Next Movie. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  37. Trumbore, Dave (13 October 2012). "Tom Harper Set to Direct The Woman in Black: Angels of Death". Collider. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  38. "Woman in Black sequel casts Jeremy Irvine as lead". BBC News Online. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  39. "Helen McCrory". London theatre tickets.

Further reading

  • Grunert, Andrea. "The Woman in Black". Enzyklopädie des Phantastischen Films. Issue 97, Meitingen: Corian Verlag. March 2012. p. 1–19. ISBN 978-3-89048-497-6.
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