The Woman In Black: Why The Use Of Music And Sound Is So Effective
Sound effects and music in film today are not always fully appreciated, so in this study I will be looking into a particular film and breaking it down to examine the effects music and sound design has on viewers.
The film that will be explored in this study is called The Woman In Black which is a horror film adaptation of the book by Susan Hill (Hamish Hamilton, 1983).
Horror films have been around for over 100 years and never go out of fashion, especially the films created by Hammer Productions, which some consider the classics that today’s horror films take inspiration from (Ferro, 2016). Hammer Productions are known for films such as Dracula, Taste of Fear, and the Nanny. In the last decade there have been a lot of horror films released, but many fail to capture the same fear factor of past films, except for a few. The stand out film of one of Hammers recent catalogue is the The Woman In Black (2012), which could be considered the perfect horror film, and pays tribute to its stylistic predecessors and the horror genre as a whole.
Originally a book published in 1982 by Susan Hill, The Woman In Black has been adapted into a film starring actor Daniel Radcliffe. There has been a stage play adaptation that has also been running in the West End in London for more than 20 years.
Some reviewers use the term “simple” to describe this film and criticise it for its “generic story” but that does not necessarily mean it is boring (Empire, 2012). The use of effects, sound design and music combined with cinematography makes this film feel fresh and new and above all entertaining. It also has had good ratings which shows there is clearly something to admire about this film (See Appendix 1).
During the days of the silent movies music in film was not emotionally connected with the visual imagery on screen. (National Science and Media Museum, 2020). In theatres it was more common to have an orchestra. The orchestra would play a certain number of songs over the entirety of the film and then just stop. Over time film producers decided to make music to help create certain emotions and explain scenes in more detail for the viewers. But over time silent films, according to Hanns Eisler, have always had a connection with a “ghostly effect” associated with horror films today. In the sense that music was introduced to silent films when it was unclear how viewers should feel. In contrast using no sound was sometimes just as effective as having sound