The Woman in Black



Macabre ghost story is slow but creepy enough for teens.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: February 3, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The only positive message is that the love that binds mothers to their children -- and husbands to their wives (and vice versa) -- continues even after someone has died.

Positive role models

Arthur tries his best to work hard and save his family's finances by taking on a thankless case, even though the townsfolk tell him to leave. Mr. Daly, unlike the rest of the people in town, helps Arthur, despite the village's superstitions about the haunted estate.


Lots of creepy and disturbing scenes; many involving children's deaths. The movie opens with three young sisters jumping out of their attic playroom's windows, plunging to their deaths (viewers see them jump, not land). A girl who drinks lye spits up blood, convulses, and dies.  Another girl dies immolating herself in a basement fire. A story refers to how two young boys walked out in the ocean and drowned; in another tale mentioned again and again, a boy drowns in muddy marshland. Faces and figures pop out unexpectedly, and the Woman in Black is terrifying. She screams and is shown hanging and lurking in rooms moments before children die. People catch glimpses of the ghosts of dead children, and two other characters die suddenly, but it's not gory.

Not applicable

"What the hell," "bloody," "oh my God."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In a few scenes, Arthur joins a town resident in having a hard drink -- both at the inn and at Daly's home. Mrs. Daly requires some form of sedative to calm her down. The inn has a pub where several adults drink a pint. A man is shown smoking a cigar.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that because Daniel Radcliffe stars in this period ghost story, even younger Harry Potter fans may want to see it. But even though there's not a lot of blood and gore, The Woman in Black isn't age appropriate for tweens or younger kids. There are several disturbing deaths in the movie, mostly children who kill themselves at the bequest of a ghost, and all of the scenes at the haunted estate are chock-full of creepy toys, strange noises, and freaky moments that will have audiences jumping in their seats. And the Woman in Black herself is terrifying. There's also some drinking, but not much in the way of language.

What's the story?

In this adaptation of Susan Hill's Victorian-set ghost story, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a grieving young London widower raising a toddler son. A lawyer, Kipps is sent to a small shore town called Crythin Gifford to settle the estate of a recently deceased dowager, Mrs. Alice Drablow. But the moment he arrives in the town, the villagers try to run him off, refusing him a room and outright telling him to go back to London. Determined to make his firm happy (he's been put on notice), Kipps travels to Eel Marsh, Mrs. Drablow's deteriorating moorland estate, where he sees a figure of a woman dressed in black. Back at the village, children begin to die, and everyone points a finger at Kipps' meddling. As he delves into the estate's papers, Arthur is haunted by odd noises and visions until he realizes what the house's secret is and believes he knows how to stop THE WOMAN IN BLACK.

Is it any good?


Radcliffe is definitely a fine actor, and his 10 years of battling You Know Who on screen have trained him well to deal with intricate expressions of fear. He can, with the slightest of changes in posture or widening of his blue eyes, convey the terror that the audience is also experiencing in this jump-out-of-your-seat thriller. This is old school horror -- a ghost story full of creepy images of dolls and wind-up toys with freaky eyes, crows that appear seemingly out of nowhere, and kids who find ways of killing themselves to appease a vengeful specter.

But despite the movie's scream-worthy scenes, which are set up so leisurely that you just know you a surprise is coming, director James Watkins spends too much time creating the eerie mood and not enough propelling it forward. It's the kind of movie that feels two-hours-plus long, when it's actually only 95 minutes. At least the performances are good. Radcliffe is supported by two of Britain's most valuable players -- Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer -- as Mr. and Mrs. Daily, the wealthiest couple in Crythin Gifford. They too once lost a son and deal with it in frightening, comedic ways. Any scene with them in it is a highlight of the movie. It's lovely to see the Boy Who Lived move on, but don't expect The Woman in Black to be nearly as memorable as Harry Potter or as creepily mind-blowing as The Others.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how The Woman in Black compares to bloodier "slasher" horror movies. What's scarier to you -- gore or "jump" scenes? Why?

  • What made you want to see the movie -- the story, or the fact that Daniel Radcliffe was in it? Is he believable as a father?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 3, 2012
DVD release date:May 22, 2012
Cast:Ciaran Hinds, Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer
Director:James Watkins
Studio:Alliance Films
Topics:Book characters, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic material, violence, and disturbing images

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written bytreat02 February 17, 2012


it has violence, but a good movie, well, it is great! i think it has some scary moments but it is GREAT! i think mature ten year old are ok to see this. dont take younger.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old February 4, 2012

The Woman In Black: From a Kid's Point of View

I don't like horror/scary dramas. Though I'm a HUGE Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan, I'm still *quite faint hearted. I've found that during these sorts of movies, I should bring a pen and paper into the theater, and write down what I think, which is just what I did for this movie. So here is what I thought and proceeded to write down: -WOW! DRAMA! -ew! - Heh. The expressional wind up toys are kind of funny! -This movie kind of makes me laugh. -Wait-- EW! -Through all these strange happenings, he [Arthur Kipps; main character and protagonist] still thinks he's going nuts! -Hang on.... where'd he get the ax? -EW!! As you can tell, I use humor to get through a lot of scary things. But here's my honest opinion: I liked the movie. It's not TOO scary. But at times, yes indeed, it makes you jump. I honestly found the scary parts in the movie to be the grody parts. I found some of the scenes to be rather than genuinely "scary" a little on the icky side. I don't know who's agreeing with me here, but I don't find muddy brown, screaming ghosts very pleasant to watch. I'm not going to lie, the TRULY scary parts did make me want to cover my eyes. The woman in black, when she appears, is pretty frightening. There are scenes in the movie (towards the end) where the ghost is flying towards you, screaming, that wasn't very nice to watch, but I pulled through. Overall, if the kid is mature, 11 years old would be a pretty realistic age to be able watch this movie. At least, I think so.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old February 15, 2012


too scary i felt sick and i am 12 so thats quite bad though it wasn't so bad i had to leave the room. Afterwords i did have nightmares.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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