The Woman in Black: Angel of Death
As a follow-up to 2012’s The Woman in Black, this sequel from director Tom Harper largely fails to reach the same chilling level as its surprisingly worthy predecessor. Set during the Blitz of World War II, a group of school children are evacuated to the apparent sanctuary of Eel Marsh House, where they promptly disturb the dark and foreboding spirit that lurks therein. It is up to Eve, their young schoolteacher, to try and wrest them free from the unfurling evil while battling her own emotional demons.
There’s no denying the gothic ambience evoked by the imposing old house hemmed in by a marshy causeway, and the pace of the film is reasonably well-judged. All things considered, though, there is scarcely anything of any new or refreshing value to be gleaned from this film. The possessed child, the scary doll, the creaky house, the demonic faces that appear over people’s shoulders from the shadows – these are by now such formulaic and stale horror tropes that their impact is completely nullified.
By contrast, you could do well to watch The Babadook, another recent horror release that, for all its flaws, was at least attempting to explore new aesthetic and narrative territory within the genre.
For horror novices, this film may well provide a modicum of scares and excitement, as it does eschew atmospheric tension in favour of frequent yet hollow “boo” vignettes, very much in the vein of contemporary mainstream horror cinema. Aficionados of the genre would be well-advised to steer clear.
All being said, it is good to see Hammer Films operational again having been resurrected from the dead a few years ago. In actual fact, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death sits quite comfortably within their heritage, seeing as how, despite turning out the occasional horror classic, they were more often than not guilty of wringing out decrepit sequels with little redeeming worth to recommend them.
The Woman in Black: Angel of Death is released nationwide on 2nd January 2015.
Watch the trailer for The Woman in Black: Angel of Death here: