I confess that I didn't know in advance that this film was made by Hammer Film Productions. If I had known, I might have thought twice about seeing it at the cinema.
Don't get me wrong, I love Hammer Horrors for what they are, but I would have unfairly pre-judged the genre as inappropriate for this story.
As a child growing up in the 1970s, I sneaked a look at more than my fair share of this company's film output. I have enduring memories of Vincent Price's Dracula; dark, haunted houses; screams and buckets of blood; then buxom beauties, with heaving chests, waiting for swash-buckling men to save them from the monsters.
All of which did not suggest to me a company capable of matching Susan Hill's psychological subtleties and 'did that really just happen' mood setting. Hand on heart, I will admit that I was wrong. They did pull it off.
There were a lot of effects and angles which did recall those legendary, vintage British horror films. If I'd remained ignorant of the fact that Hammer produced them, then I'd have assumed a cultural influence. But they seemed more sophisticated, like the company had grown up along with myself.
The movie is rated 12a in Britain, which means that under twelves can only view it in the presence of an adult. That seemed about right to me. The gore is implied, rather than shown; while the frights are more of the jump out and startle you variety.
Hammer applies the same restraint that Susan Hill showed, in that many opportunities for being startled are skipped. This simply adds to the tension, as no-one is prepared when things actually do occur.
There were still more cheap tricks than I would have liked, but then I do prefer my ghost stories to be more understated. Nevertheless, I'll forgive them the few clunkier moments, because I left the cinema not disappointed by my time within it. Overall, they did Susan Hill proud and provided a wonderfully spine-chilling retelling of The Woman in Black.