Whatever your take on its predecessor, this film is a step in the wrong direction.
There’s a moment in Tom Harper’s sequel to the 2012 hit The Woman in Black, about 20 minutes or so in, that’s really subtle and creepy. There’s another one about 10 minutes from the end. Both of these moments employ framing in a way that really builds up a sense of dread. The subsequent chills (one involving a simple change in focus, the other involving a hole in the ceiling and something nasty merging from within) are understated, artful and elegant. In between these two bits; there’s a lots of things jumping in front of the camera and shouting.
It all starts off competently enough, with Daniel Radcliffe unable to reprise his role from the first film, his character being [spoiler alert]dead, the story centers on some new, delightfully bland characters, who apparently we’re supposed to care about. In short, to escape from the blitz, several school children, their teacher and their headmistress evacuate to the countryside town of Crythin Gifford.
The WW2 setting keeps things a bit more fresh, and the whole thing is very handsomely mounted. Generally speaking it’s technically accomplished and everyone seems to know what they’re doing. The production design, the cinematography, it’s all top notch. It’s just a shame then, that such talent is wasted on something so humdrum.
Make no mistake, Angel of Death is by no means terrible. It’s not insulting in the same way as the likes of Insidious Part II (a properly bad horror sequel) but there’s not really much to recommend either. If you happen to love loud bangs and sharp escalations in volume then this may be right up your alley. For those who want something a bit meatier, just stick on the first one again.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2014), directed by Tom Harper is distributed in UK cinemas by Entertainment One, certificate 15.