The Woman in Black: Angel of Death
Suspense-free sequel to the 2012 frightener starring Jeremy Irvine and Phoebe Fox
When Hammer brought The Woman in Black back to life in 2012 (it was previously a TV movie directed by Herbert Wise, based of course on the hugely successful novella) the revival was an atmospheric effort aided by a confident screenplay from Jane Goldman. Tom Harper’s sequel however is a suspense-free step-down.
This time, a group of evacuated children are placed in the dreaded Eel Marsh House during the Blitz. They awaken the titular spectre who takes a particular interest in a grief-stricken boy named Edward (Oaklee Pendergast) who has recently lost his family. But really she's not all that fussy and picks off the children one by one, while also playing cruel mind games with their teacher Eve (Phoebe Fox).
Eve has encountered young RAF pilot Harry (Jeremy Irvine) on the train from London to the coast in a weirdly aggressive meet-cute, where their conversation takes the form of an interrogation. It's a crude attempt to deliver information to the viewer about Eve’s situation and background, and screenwriter Jon Croker (who based this on a story from the author of the original book, Susan Hill) simultaneously forgets to make the characters in any way charming or convincing. It’s an amusingly bad start to a film which doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the word subtlety.
The coastal setting and now derelict house still impress but that doesn’t make up for the cheap jump scares and cliché-ridden screenplay. However, an admirable attempt is made to remind viewers of war-time sacrifices, with grim visuals of children stuck in muddy trenches and barbed wire. In addition, Croker does remember to prey on his characters’ fears but it's handled in such a clumsy way it’s difficult to take seriously. Add to that Harper’s inability to create a semblance of tension and you have a tedious watch that goes through the motions with precious little momentum.
General release from Thu 1 Jan.