The first The Woman In Black film surpassed all expectations by taking $127m from a $15m budget, really remarkable, sequel-pending numbers. It was the highest grossing British horror film for 20 years, overtaking modern classics such as Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, owing much to its ability to appeal to as broad a range of film-goers as possible with its 12A certificate and the familiar, friendly face of Daniel Radcliffe, unconvincingly portraying a father.
Its sequel suffers from all the same poorly played out tropes as its predecessor, namely the cheap, telegraphed jump scares, a tedious lack of genuine atmosphere and characters as wet as a flannel.
If you liked the first film, you’ll enjoy this one too. But that statement might actually be misleading, as this film is so similar to the first that it’s perhaps unfair to assume people will gladly endure another 90 minutes of the same. 40 years after the first film, a group of school children are evacuated during the Blitz along with their teacher (Phoebe Fox) and headmistress (Helen McCrory) to the very same house that terrorised Daniel Radcliffe 40 years ago. The set design is horrible, littered with creepy toys and signposts screaming out ‘scary’. It’s all designed for someone who’s never seen a horror movie before, which may well be an audience that exists for this film considering the low age certificate. It transpires to a lack of creative choices, some scenes and shots look like they may have been copy and pasted from the first film, which itself was derivative. Phoebe Fox plays the children’s teacher and de facto mother figure as wet and cloying, whilst Jeremy Irvine plays a gorgeous, clean cut pilot who flatters to convince of his wartime experience.
The Woman In Black: Angel of Death plays creepiness for the sake of creepiness, littered with unsubtle genre tropes and slaps across the face in an attempt to shock. Why this ghostly woman insists on bothering so many people isn’t terribly interesting, but as long as people keep paying for her to keep jumping out and make scary noises at obvious intervals, I’m sure she’ll be happy to do so.
Review by David Rank
The Woman In Black: Angel of Death is out on 1st January in the UK. Running time 98 mins. Certificate 12A (UK).