112 user 28 critic

The Woman in Black (1989)

Not Rated | | Horror, Mystery | TV Movie 24 December 1989
A lawyer travels to a small seaside town to settle the estate of a recently deceased woman, but soon becomes ensnared in something much more sinister.


Herbert Wise


Susan Hill (based on the book by), Nigel Kneale (screenplay)
4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Adrian Rawlins ... Arthur Kidd
Bernard Hepton ... Sam Toovey
David Daker ... Josiah Freston
Pauline Moran ... Woman in Black
David Ryall ... Sweetman
Clare Holman ... Stella Kidd
John Cater ... Arnold Pepperell
John Franklyn-Robbins ... Reverend Greet
Fiona Walker ... Mrs. Toovey
William Simons ... John Keckwick
Robin Weaver Robin Weaver ... Bessie
Caroline John ... Stella's Mother
Joseph Upton Joseph Upton ... Eddie Kidd
Steven Mackintosh ... Rolfe
Andy Nyman ... Jackie (as Andrew Nyman)
Learn more

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When a friendless old widow dies in the seaside town of Crythin, a young solicitor is sent by his firm to settle the estate. The lawyer finds the townspeople reluctant to talk about or go near the woman's dreary home and no one will explain or even acknowledge the menacing woman in black he keeps seeing. Ignoring the towns-people's cryptic warnings, he goes to the house where he discovers its horrible history and becomes ensnared in its even more horrible legacy. Written by D.A. Kellough <dkelloug@infinet.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A spine-chilling ghost story


Horror | Mystery


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Adrian Rawlins (Arthur Kidd) later played Dr. Rhodes in Hammer Films, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2014), a sequel to The Woman in Black (2012). See more »


When Mr. Kidd is in the nursery for the first time, just before the toy soldier is supposed to magically appear in his hand, you can see the actor reach into his pocket and retrieve said object then conceal it in his palm. See more »


Sam Toovey: Can you guess how much I've gathered up out there? Nine farms. Big and small. 12,600 acres. Half a dozen faithful tenants. God knows how many labourers. And I'm not gonna stop now.
Arthur Kidd: I've heard it said you'll own half the county.
Sam Toovey: I might at that. Why do I do it?
Arthur Kidd: I don't know. Why do you?
Sam Toovey: I don't know. No reason, except to go on and on. Doing it becomes its own reason, you see. And in the end... There's no point at all. It's like all hobbies. Essentially pointless. Will you agree, Margaret? My ...
See more »


References The Gold Rush (1925) See more »


Abide with Me
Music by William H. Monk
Played on church organ at Mrs. Drablow's funeral
See more »

User Reviews

Black sorrow.
15 March 2008 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

A young solicitor from London, Arthur Kidd is sent to a small coastal town of Crythin Gifford to oversee the estate of a recently passed away widow Mrs Drablow. While attending her funeral, a mysterious lady dressed in black catches his attention. Supposedly Drablow lived a reclusive life, and locals kept pretty quiet about her. After this he heads to Mrs Drablow mansion that can only be reached on a causeway through the swamp during low tide. There he encounters the woman in black again in cemetery out back of the house, and things begin to get creepy as terrifying noises start coming from the marshes. Now can Mrs Drablow's belongings and listening to her recorded dairy entries help Kidd figure out this gloomy mystery that the locals fear to talk about.

Often highly regarded amongst horror fans as being one of the most chilling ghost stories ever and I can see their point. But only in doses does it draw upon tag. Yes, from what you can gather I was left a 'little' under-whelmed, despite really liking it. I was expecting goose bumps throughout the whole feature, but that's probably it… expecting. Mainly I had a similar reaction with the 1980 haunted house thriller 'The Changeling'. When you hear so many good things, it's sometimes hard not get caught up with it.

Anyhow what the British TV presentation of "The Woman in Black" effectively does is bring out a truly old-fashion, slow burn spine-tingling premise driven by its moody locations, disquieting atmosphere and first-rate performances. Subtly blankets the psychologically gripping story (adapted off Susan Hill's novel of the same name), as the simple mystery authentically opens up with a depressingly tragic tone and successfully characterises its protagonist. Little seems to happen, and can feel drawn out, but the fragile randomness of it catch you off guard. Whenever the camera focuses on the lady in black. Who mostly appears as a background figure, it's ultimately creepy. She might not appear all that much, but when she does…. Talk about unnerving! That also goes for that downbeat conclusion. Pauline Moran, who plays the woman in black, competently gets us nervous by just her gaunt appearance and sudden positioning. A pale look and those minor mannerisms just seem to haunt you. She's a spirit you don't want to cross paths with, yet alone let her see you. An accomplished performance by a marvelously moody Adrian Rawlins as the solicitor Arthur Kidd does hold it all together. In support are solid turns by Bernard Hepton, David Daker, Clare Holman and David Ryall.

Drawing heavy on its lushly sombre rural town and foggy coastal locations adds more to the realistically eerie plight and the centre piece were everything unfolds in the forlorn, time-worn Victorian house that comprehensively suffocates the air with constant fear. Director Herbert Wise carefully fabricates alarming imagery that slowly covers one secretive piece at a time in a smoothly paved out rhythm of well-judged contriving. Instead of going out to shock us, some scenes contain a distressing intensity that won't let go. The sound effects are masterfully used, by surrounding and disorienting the air. Rachel Portman's harrowing musical score knows how to get under your skin during those eerie moments and then stay with you.

This rarity made-for-television feat is a stimulating rich and unsettling supernatural spook-fest. It might not share much new to the sub-genre, but it competently sticks to it strengths to deliver what counts in this curse.

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Release Date:

24 December 1989 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A Mulher de Preto See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastman Colour)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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