Director: Tom Harper Starring: Phoebe Fox, Jeremy Irvine & Helen McCrory Synopsis: 40 years after the first haunting at Eel Marsh House, a group of children evacuated from WWII London arrive, awakening the house’s darkest inhabitant Rating: 15 Runtime: 98 minutes Release date: 1 January 2015
Once upon a time I hated horror films. To the point where I would avoid the genre and anything it produced at all costs. If a friend recommended we watch a horror film, I would protest but then begrudgingly agree to view it. I hated to be scared, and so I would look to other genres for my entertainment. It wasn’t until I was in my very late teens, maybe even early twenties, that I began to enjoy horror films and by proxy enjoy being scared. Once I gave into the genre, and all its familiar tropes, I found myself warming to it and seeking out all manner of films.
Over time, I found that not every horror film had to be scary for me to enjoy it. The Cabin in the Woods for example, is a great horror film, but isn’t particularly scary. On the other hand, when I do want to be scared, I often find that the best way to do that is to watch something with a supernatural element. I enjoy a good ghost story and despite the subgenres obsession with false scares, I usually find a genuine chill running through me when watching anything like The Conjuring, or more aptly The Woman in Black.
There was something very enjoyable about 2012’s The Woman in Black. I enjoyed seeing Daniel Radcliffe playing someone other than Harry Potter, and quite honestly I just enjoyed being made to jump so often in a crowded cinema. With that, while my expectations were not soaring for the curiously titled The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, I was still eager to see how a sequel would work to one of Hammer’s more recent hits.
Unfortunately, for fans of the first film, or for fans of horror in general, the result is somewhat disappointing. The film is set roughly forty years after the first film and Britain is suffering the worst of the Nazi bombings. Our hero Eve (Phoebe Fox) evacuates her schoolchildren to the countryside in order to escape the worst of the war who, along with the school’s headmistress Jean and handsome pilot Harry will all wish they had stayed in London.
The setting brings an added gloom to proceedings, and the acting by all, especially Fox is commendable, but the film as a whole is just very average. There is an over reliance on using the house and its dark corners, which is fine until it starts to retread the events of the first film. The actual woman in black is used very little, and to poor effect, while the various plot elements are a hodgepodge of ideas that seem to go nowhere or prove very confusing if they do.
It’s not necessarily all bad though. There are some good scares here, and the overall feel is a very creepy one. It’s also heartening to see a female led film, with Fox’s character being the strongest by far. Despite this, The Woman Black: Angel of Death is a largely forgettable film that only succeeds in killing an hour and a half.
In summary: A poor start to the year. Perhaps save your money for Birdman or Big Hero 6.