Set 40 years after the 2012 Daniel Radcliffe version of Susan Hill's novel The Woman in Black, Angel of Death picks up the story some 40 years later as two teachers Jean and Eve lead a group of London evacuees to Eel Marsh house and awaken the evil of the Woman in Black.
Jumping the setting to the 1940’s with new characters works well and stops the film feeling like a complete re-tread. After the box office success in 2012 The Woman in Black is now the star paving the way for new faces to encounter her wrath. Phoebe Fox stars as plucky young teacher Eve, Headmistress Jean is played by a wonderfully stiff-lipped Helen McCrory. Romantic interest comes from Jeremy Irvine as Harry; a dashing pilot. He is struggling with a secret and it becomes clear that Eve has demons of her own which we get hints of in dream sequences where she has the biggest hair since Rupaul's Drag Race.
Children are the reason the Woman comes back for revenge and now she has a whole bus load of them to spook/inspire creepy drawings and lead to various deaths.
One of my issues about the films predecessor was that everything was so overly spooky, the set dressing was wonderful but it felt more like a tour round the Disney haunted Mansion. Now Eel Marsh house is derelict and somehow it seems to work better and again the set design is fantastic. Angel is more of ensemble piece, Fox, Irvine and McCrory do well with the material they have but there's actually very little for them to do except walk through the well-trodden paces leading to the next set piece involving the vengeful spirit.
The script is unexceptional and occasionally clunky. One scene involving Irvine and a discovered phonograph recorder delivers some nice exposition from the Woman in Black's first victim. Interestingly this scene has been practically lifted from the 1989 TV movie where Adrian Rawlins played Daniel Radcliffe’s role. Rawlins is also a supporting cast member in Angel of death as well as playing Radcliffe's father in the Harry Potter series. It’s a fine creepy moment bristling with suspense but like a lot of the scares it’s finished off with a naff jump scare banishing any atmosphere created in the build-up meaning the Woman in Black never feels very threatening or stays with you beyond becoming a screaming face in the dark.
There are some lovely moments of cinematography making the most of the misty and murky surroundings. Much of the film seems to have been filmed on a set but this works to its advantage working as a throwback to the Hammer Films of the 50s and 60s.
Despite the higher rating of 15 (the BBFC received may complaints about the first film’s 12A rating) there are fewer deaths.
An enjoyable spooky drama with some great moments but don't expect anything too memorable. I'd welcome a third instalment in another time period. There’s life in the old ghost yet.
The Woman in Black: Angel of Death is directed by Tom Harper and the script written by Jon Croker.
An enjoyable period ghost sequel with some great atmosphere and spooky moments