We Should be Talking About the Woman in Black


I finally got around to seeing Daniel Radcliffes’ Hammer Horror this week.

I watched it in part because I was so fed up with ‘The Hunger Games’ bandwagon that many Christians have jumped on. That’s something that really annoys me. That’s not to say that there aren’t some incredible resources that are worth using (Tearfund being one of them) but I find the fact that almost every Christian youth work blogger is writing something about it a little tiring.

Hey, I understand why they (we) do it. It’s a big film. Lots of young people are going to go watch it. There are lots of issues to discuss about it. It’s worth talking about.

But it’s not the only film worth talking about. It’s not the only film with something to say.

Take the “woman in black’ for example. It has grossed more than £20 million at the UK box office and has become the most successful British horror film of all time. At least 60% of my youth group has seen it but a search online to find discussion resources for it yields no matches.

And why is that? I suspect because many Christians do not think it’s a ‘safe’ film. It’s not safe because it’s a horror movie that is created to scare you. For those people who would argue that point but would happily talk about ‘the hunger games’, I would ask whether a film about young people killing each other for the entertainment of adults is ‘safe’ but that would be disingenuous.

We need to be talking about all sorts of films with young people because young people watch all sorts of films. Not talking about films like the ‘woman in black’ or telling young people not to watch it does not help. They will still watch it. Promoting only certain films like ‘the hunger games’ does not help either.

Now I get that I some people don’t want to watch horror because it will scare them or give them nightmares. That’s understandable. But get someone else to see it then and tell you about it. Or check out the resources I’ll put up here and at the reel faith site shortly.

Do you agree with me?



3 responses

  1. I agree Steven. It seems to be a cycle – often (though not always) films that get the most marketing, gain the most publicity, and generate the most discussion, whether from the point of view of faith or not, but there are many, many films (and other artforms) out there that deserve more of a look. And, more importantly, many of these other films are being seen and talked about by young people.

    I find ‘horror’ a tough genre (it’s too scary for me!) but the films still say something. I’ve not seen The Woman in Black, but have seen the play … twice. I think I will find the film too scary and yet if it is closely aligned with the play it will have a lot to say about issues such as revenge, justice, perceived reality and even identity (in the play there are just two actors and the woman, but the woman is not named in the programme credits – she is not there). The play also has a lot to say about imagination and how we create ‘reality’ from just a few things around us.

    I’ve always had a problem with films being ‘off limits’ somehow, or filtered through the lens of someone else’s idea of what is appropriate. We have to offer advice and opinions of course, but there is too much of a ‘go and see this one it will tell you something about faith then we can talk about it’ mindset. When I was a student I went to see The Piano, and when I told a fellow student she was utterly horrified that I, as a Christian, could go and see such a morally questionable film. She wasn’t interested in what it had to say about the manipulation of women, of sexual politics and power, of the outcomes of love and rejection, of Colonial Christian values, of something of the history of New Zealand, or even of the high production values and amazing soundtrack.

    So, yes, keep listening to what young people are watching, and talk about it!

    1. Hi Julie,

      Thanks for the feedback. I think the distinction between “i don’t like horror so can’t watch it” and “you shouldn’t want it” is lost often when it comes to the horror genre and I believe out of all genres, horror is the one that mirrors culture the most. horrors films of a certain period or era tell us a lot about what was going on at the time and what the fears of the people were.

      the play sounds interesting as they were many more characters in the movie and it would be interesting to see it done with just three people.

      thanks again for the comments.

  2. […] We Should be Talking About the Woman in Black (smoorns.wordpress.com) […]

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