The Woman in Black is one of my favourite ghost stories and one I know quite well having read the book and watched the play long before the film was announced. The film adaptation was my kind of horror as it was filled with well earned jump scares, tension and very little gore. The sequel was inevitable and I can’t pretend that I was unhappy at the announcement.
PLOT: Set during WW2, school teacher Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) accompanies a group of evacuees to Eel Marsh House where fresh sightings of the Woman in Black endanger the lives of the children. END PLOT
The plot of The Woman in Black: Angel of Death is basic but with horror films sometimes simplicity can be made up for in other ways. Unfortunately this was not to be the case. The Woman in Black managed to create decent amounts of tension to build up some very affective jump scares however the jump scares in the sequel weren’t earned and felt cheap. I couldn’t understand why the rating was a 15 rather than the 12A of the previous film but I realised quite quickly this was due to who died rather than how they died.
Phoebe Fox and Jeremy Irvine were fine in their respective roles but their characters were so bland there was very little they could do to with their performances to lift the film. Irvine had the good grace to be attractive so all wasn’t totally lost.
The setting of Eel Marsh House is legitimately creepy and its dilapidated form gave the film ample opportunities to create some good haunted house set pieces however we were reduced to a skeletal CGI hand repeatedly poking through the floorboards and never ending shots of a rocking chair. The rocking chair was a key feature in The Woman in Black however in Angel of Death it became repetitive very quickly.
The film attempted to explore the origins of the Woman in Black but it was essentially a rehash of information that I already knew and it didn’t bring her story to any conclusion. In this regards it was a wasted opportunity. A third film, which already feels inevitable, will undoubtedly cover the same ground with the only difference being that it will be set in another time period. I can’t pretend that I won’t go and see it on opening night *sigh*.
Despite its flaws I already know that The Woman in Black: Angel of Death will probably be one of the better horror films that I see in the cinema this year. This somehow makes it all the more disappointing. The Woman in Black: Angel of Death gets 5/10. It's worth a look in the cinema but it doesn't deserve any further thought once the lights go up. It's lather, rinse, repeat filmmaking at its laziest.
Even the Woman in Black can't stifle a yawn.