Today: April 16, 2024

The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death

With 2012’s The Woman In Black proving a box office hit the sequel The Woman In Black Angel Of Death was an inevitability. Even though the first film essentially put to bed the mystery of Eel Marsh House. But with original novel writer Susan Hill mapping out the plot for this follow-up the signs all point to a film with chills and ghoulish goings-on.

Forty years after the events of the first film, during World War II, a group of children are evacuated from London to Eel Marsh House. Accompanied by teacher Eve (Phoebe Fox) it isn’t long before things start to go bump in the night. Desperate to protect orphan Edward (Oaklee Pendergast) Eve turns to locally stationed pilot Harry (Jeremy Irvine) for comfort. But as the haunting at Eel Marsh grows increasingly more malicious so Eve begins to wonder if Harry and Edward know more about what is occurring than they are letting on.

As with the first film Angel Of Death brings a solid level of gothic charm to proceedings. Director Tom Harper paints everything with a moldy pallet, the house itself being just as much a character in the story as any of those breathing, or otherwise. Taking the influence of John Carpenter’s seminal horror Halloween, Harper places the titular Woman lurking in the back of frame, her white face instinctively drawing your attention to it. Early on this makes for a sinister level of ever-rising creep, towards the middle it becomes a game of Where’s The Woman In Black and by the end she’s pretty much right in your face.

The issues arise with the plotting. The characterisations feel either clichéd or predictable and, given how the first film ended, there is never really any explanation as to why The Woman In Black has gone all vengeful again. For a moment in the mid-section there is an interesting idea that Edward’s grief is somehow both responsible and controlling of the malevolent spirit. The little cherub going all Omen on those who aren’t nice to him but the climax chooses to forgo this to fall back on a similar dénouement to the first film and at the same time undermine how that film ended. It’s frustrating as there is enough early on to get the shivers going but the end feels horribly flat rather than simply horrifying.

Two-thirds of a solid little chiller slightly let down by a damp finale, The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death will probably see the franchise taken to the grave, and stay there.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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