The clumsily titled “The Woman in Black 2: The Angel of Death” is a Hammer horror sequel to the very effective 2012 horror vehicle for Daniel Radcliffe, which itself was based on the jump-fest of a London stage show.
Set 40 years after the original, the spooky Eel Marsh House is the destination for a headmistress (Helen McCrory – Malfoy from Harry Potter), her spoonful-of-sugar-style teacher Eve (Phoebe Fox) and a class of WW2 evacuees from the London blitz.
One child in particular (Tom, played well by young Jude Wright) has been struck mute by being recently orphaned and becomes the focal point for the supernatural activity. Eve strikes up a relationship with a handsome and square-jawed young airman (Jeremy Irvine from “War Horse”) on the train, who proves to be a useful asset when the going starts to get tough.
Let’s start with the good. One of the most important people on a movie like this is not the lead actor or the director or the make-up artist, but the editor – and Mark Eckersley deserves a call out for effectively delivering some very good jump scares. And Phoebe Fox and Helen McCrory are both very good in their roles: Phoebe Fox, in a feature lead debut, is a personable and very attractive actress that should be given something better to work on.
There are also some high production values in terms of the atmospheric sets, locations and the cinematography, no less then you would expect from the UK film industry.
Unfortunately, these positives are poorly served by a whole heap of negatives. The story is a jumbled mess, linking back to elements of the first story that I (at least) can’t remember the details of and only referencing in passing the spooky core of the Woman in Black premise (that when someone sees her a child dies). The effective jump scares are added rather at random, which perhaps is what makes them even jumpier. However, apart from one scene where Eve returns to the house alone, there is little in terms of a build-up of tension that made the Radcliffe version so effective.
All in all, rather a damp squib, and the trailer is actually a lot better than the film. It’s not that bad that if you see the Woman in Black a part of your soul dies…. but there are better films to occupy you at the moment.
Fad Rating: FFf.