In Review: The Woman in Black: Angel of Death

by Daniel Goodwin on 01/01/2015


After supernatural blunder The Quiet Ones (2014), Hammer return with a sequel to its 2012 adaptation of Susan Hill’s classic ghost story. Set during WW2, forty years after the original, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death follows school teacher Eve (Phoebe Fox) on her journey to the village of Crythin Gifford, alongside crotchety headmistress Jean (Helen McRory) and a class of evacuated children. The group take refuge in the decrepit Eel Marsh House. Soon a series of strange events begin to unfold forcing Eve to investigate the ghoulish truth behind Eel Marsh and the spectre haunting its grounds.

Despite an intriguing premise, this poorly-crafted attempt to kickstart a franchise with tedious characters, stilted performances and corny, textbook scares, is mediocre at best. Lacking scale, scope and ambition, the hackneyed drama and clunky shock sequences unravel with baggy panache. A sub-plot involving dapper RAF pilot Harry (Jeremy Irvine) shifts the narrative focus yet does little to deepen the characters or serve the central storyline. While there are a couple of creepy moments, a failure to effectively conjure a sense of foreboding is apparent throughout.

The era setting and musky, candle-lit interiors evoke creepy, British TV horrors of the 70s and 80s such as Dead of Night (1972), Supernatural (1977) and Sleepwalker (1984) but Director Tom Harper fails to employ similar aesthetics or a festering unease suited to the premise. Instead he resorts to rickety CG mists and ghost train jolts, which worked well for James Watkins’ original but lack terror and edge this time around.

While it may not have necessarily saved the picture, using budget limitations to their advantage by concocting an unnerving atmosphere in place of an over-abundance of visual effects, could have generated fitting chills. Employing the less-is-more approach worked for The Blair Witch Project (1999) and may have done so here, combined with the story’s supernatural elements but as it stands this sequel is flat and utterly ordinary. If watched on TV, alone and in the dead of night, The Woman in Black 2 might raise a few goosebumps but at the cinema it languishes like a corpse on a slab.

Daniel has awarded Woman in Black: Angel of Death two Torches of Truth


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: