British Board of Film Classification

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Type of media Film

Approved Running time 94m 47s

Release date 10/02/2012

BBFCInsight Contains intense supernatural threat and horror

Genre(s) Horror, Thriller

Director(s) James Watkins

Cast includes Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Shaun Dooley, Alfie Field

Cut This work was cut. The cuts were made at the request of the distributor to achieve a particular category. To obtain this category cuts of 0m 6s were required. Details of cuts below may contain spoilers or plot details.

BBFCinsight publication date 31/01/2012

Note: The following text may contain spoilers

THE WOMAN IN BLACK is a film version of the well known ghost story by Susan Hill, which has also been adapted for the stage. It follows the story of a young lawyer who travels to a remote rural village where he discovers a vengeful ghost responsible for the deaths of local children. The film was classified '12A' for intense supernatural threat and horror.

There are a number of scenes of supernatural horror and threat in which the ghost of the 'woman in black', as well as the ghosts of her victims, appear to and threaten the central character and others. The BBFC's Guidelines at '12A'/'12' state 'Moderate physical and psychological threat may be permitted, providing disturbing sequences are not frequent or sustained'. Although there is a degree of intensity to the scenes involving the ghosts, these are broken up by other material, with a number of quieter periods in between the more frightening sequences. The period setting and the well-understood genre expectations offer a further degree of distancing from contemporary reality, with the film resembling a traditional ghost story in the tradition of M.R. James. Nonetheless, the general tone of the film is quite bleak and the premise of a ghost manipulating children into harming or killing themselves, make this a potentially disturbing feature for young children. Children under 12 may find the film too intense, but it is generally suitable for viewers of 12 and above, who are likely to find the scary moments thrilling rather than upsetting, particularly given that it is based on a well known book and stage play. The film also includes a scene in which the ghost of the 'woman in black' appears to hang herself from a noose. It also includes a scene in which a young girl smashes an oil lamp, causing herself to burst into flames. Both these scenes were reduced in order to achieve a '12A' classification. In another scene, a girl coughs up blood after ingesting caustic soda. The Guidelines at '12A'/'12' state 'There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood'. The coughing up of blood is relatively brief, albeit shocking, and the result of poisoning rather than violence.

The film also contains repeated verbal and visual references to a young boy drowning in a muddy swamp, to a mother dying in childbirth and some dated references to 'harlot'.

Parents can find additional information about the content of this film if they visit

Cuts information

Distributor chose to reduce moments of strong violence / horror in order to achieve a '12A' classification. Cuts made in line with BBFC Guidelines and policy. A '15' classification without cuts was available.


Momentum Theatrical
Classified date(s)
Main language
Submitted run time
94m 53s
Approved footage
BBFC reference
Registration number
In addition to the 6 seconds of visual cuts, substitutions were also made by darkening some shots and by reducing the sound levels on others.

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