Starring: Phoebe Fox, Jeremy Irvine, Helen McCrory, Leanne Best, Oaklee Pendergast, Adrian Rawlins, Leilah de Meza, Ned Dennehy
Director: Tom Harper
Writer: Jon Croker, Susan Hill
Running time: 98 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for some disturbing and frightening images, and for thematic elements)
Reviewed by Michael Juvinall – Horror Society
Capitalizing on a hit film with a sequel is almost as certain as the passage of time in the movie business. While most sequels should never have been made to begin with and those that are usually aren’t worth the film or digital space they take up, there is the rare exception to the sequel game where it turns out to actually be a good film. Such is the case with The Woman in Black 2 Angel of Death; the first film from 2012 starred Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame and was an enormous hit for Hammer Films, making it the highest grossing British horror film of the last 20 years. Can Hammer capture lighting in a bottle yet again? Yes, I believe they can if the public gets behind the film and it generates good word of mouth.
The setting is 40 years after the events of the first film as the scene starts in London, which is embroiled in the height of The Blitz during World War II. The city is relentlessly being bombed and a group of children are being prepared to evacuate the city for their safety and are relocated to the country. The children and their custodians played by Phoebe Fox and Helen McCrory are set up to stay in the derelict Eel Marsh House. Shortly after arriving, a series of terrible events begin to occur. With the help of a British pilot played by Jeremy Irvine, the group realizes they have reawakened something so sinister they have to get the children out before its too late or else suffer the wrath of The Woman in Black!
One of the best things about the first WIB was the wonderfully gothic atmosphere and classiness of the film and WIB 2 Angel of Death does a great job of keeping up that tradition. Thanks to a good script with help from original author Susan Hill, director Tom Harper has crafted a suspenseful and brooding chiller that expands the WIB universe to include new locations outside of Eel Marsh House. In this film we get to see a little bit more of the grounds including more along the atmospheric causeway. There is also a new location at an abandoned air field that provides some suspenseful action.
The cast is simply marvelous with relative newcomer Phoebe Fox leading the way as “Eve”, playing one of the children’s custodians. She does a great job as the film’s main protagonist and is very believable in her role. Veteran actress Helen McCrory plays the headmistress of the children and is also wonderful in her role but I would’ve liked to see her do more in the film. She seemed to be underused and the film would have benefited with giving her character a bit of a larger part. Director Tom Harper had worked with McCrory before and described her acting prowess as a force to be reckoned with. Finally, Jeremy Irvine plays a young military pilot that is not everything he seems to be. His co-starring role is also well done as he helps Eve battle the Woman in Black and unravel the mystery surrounding her.
There are quite a few decent frights in the film and at times the tension is palpable. Overall the suspense is very well done but I do have one complaint that some of the frights are cheap jump scares that most will see coming but they are few and there are much better scares to put the film back on track.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Woman in Black 2 Angel of Death. It is the very definition of what a gothic horror film should be and most definitely does well by Hammer in keeping their tradition alive and well in this New Year. The film is very well made and is classy in every sense of the word. With wonderful acting, a great script and masterful direction, The Woman in Black 2 Angel of Death is the first must see horror film of 2015!
4 out of 5 Pentagrams!
Watch the trailer here,