Two children were playing alone on the beach when they suddenly felt compelled to dive into the current. Why were they alone? Three little girls were playing in the attic when they suddenly felt compelled to leap from the window. Why wasn’t mommy playing with them? A little girl was left alone with only her two brothers who couldn’t stop her from drinking acid. What was so important that drove their mother into town without them? A little girl was locked in the basement as a fire engulfed her home. Why couldn’t the parent summon the courage to run inside and save her, instead of the stranger who tried?
What begins this child-killing spree? It is a vengeful ghost whose son died under her sister’s watch. The grief and rage drive her to commit suicide in the boy’s nursery, but she doesn’t stop there.
The story begins with Arthur Kipps, a junior lawyer under the pressure of losing his job. He comes to a small English village to authorize the sale of the house of a recently deceased widow. What he finds is something much different, something that threatens the lives of the children in the village and eventually the life of his own child.
The vengeful spirit of a woman, who had killed herself in the house, searches for her lost son. In life, her sister and brother-in-law legally stole her son from her. The reason is unclear in the film. The book indicates that she was deemed an unfit mother, because the boy was conceived out of wedlock. That was unacceptable in those times. The movie indicates that the couple could not conceive, and they were being greedy. They claim to love him enough to steal him, but they become too self-consumed to save him from drowning.
In her rage and grief, the Woman in Black haunts Eel Marsh House after hanging herself in the nursery, and terrorizes the village. Every time someone sees her at the house, she takes a child. Their ghosts remain trapped on Earth under her control. The only way to free them, to allow them to pass on to Heaven, is through sacrifice. Unfortunately, only one in the village possesses the courage. Through his sacrifice, he and his child become free. They move on to Heaven peacefully.
The Woman in Black represents sin, her heart as black as her dress. Sin stains the soul and does not allow forgiveness. Only through the sacrifice offered by our Heavenly Father can we find the forgiveness that allows us to find peace after death. Arthur Kipps made that sacrifice for his son just as Christ made it for all God’s children. Do you have what it takes to sacrifice your life for your child?