Isn’t it funny how people always say that the book or play is better than the film? I am going to try to do a comparison between the film and the play “The Woman in Black” and sort out where horror is best experienced. Is it together with 150 other people in a theatre auditorium or by yourself, in a pitch black room, with nothing but you and the screen?
The play “The Woman in Black” has been running at the Fortune Theater in the West End since 1989. I had seen the film, but it was not still fresh in my mind, so I was open to however the play was going to be.
I got lost already in the first set. The two actors were acting actors and they played the first scene over and over and over… Arthur Kipps (the main character) wants to tell his story, and he wants to learn how to act it out. He hires an actor to help him, and they end up acting the story together.
The film “The woman in Black” (2012) starts with three girls playing with their dolls in a nursery room. All of a sudden, their eyes turn blank and they start walking, all three of them, towards an open window and they throw themselves out. In the background you see a woman, all dressed in old fashioned black clothes and a veil over her insanely white face.
Now, that’s a way of starting a horror film.
Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) sees “the Woman” everywhere, and around him young children dies.
I thought I was a theatre person, turns out, maybe I’m not. I couldn’t see the similarities with the film and I found myself not paying full attention to all what was said or done on stage.
Although, somehow I grasped the beginning of the story briefly but it felt like I was missing out on important parts.
I felt like there were two totally different stories that were told. The plot of the play is evidently quite faithful to the original story, written by Susan Hill in 1983.
Except the play in the play that is.
Maybe people in general like the book better, because they have a chance to use their own imagination, while laying their eyes on the words. Instead of being given the pictures and the scenes in a film, they can paint the surroundings and the people’s faces with their own colours, with their own minds.
As it turned out, it was a good play, I must say. The two actors played all the roles (except the woman of course) and I was impressed how they, with just a change in clothes and a slight difference in their voices, could turn into another person, and another one, and another one.
I really didn’t thought that a theatre play could be scary, like a horror film, but from time to time it was. At most times because of the sound effects and smoke machines, or other people screaming out loud of course.
To summarise these unsorted thoughts, for me, horror in this matter was best experienced on film. Alone, in a dark room, with nothing but The Woman in Black in front of me, nothing could be scarier.
Although, both stories had a scary surprise in the end…