Film review: Woman in Black: Angel of Death

There's not too much blood, gore or ridiculous CGI effects. But there are plenty of jumps, scares and tense moments.
40 years after the first haunting at Eel Marsh House, a group of children evacuated from Second World War London arrive, awakening the house's darkest inhabitant. Courtesy  Alliance Films
40 years after the first haunting at Eel Marsh House, a group of children evacuated from Second World War London arrive, awakening the house's darkest inhabitant. Courtesy Alliance Films

Director: Tom Harper

Cast: Helen McCroy, Jeremy Irvine, Phoebe Fox Four stars

When Daniel Radcliffe appeared in 2012’s Woman in Black it was seen as his breakout film, a chance to move away from Harry Potter and indulge in some serious adult cinema with fear, psychological terror and so on.

We can’t be sure how that worked out for him without speaking to him directly, but he didn’t come back for part two.

For the sequel, the producers pulled in the less-stellar cast of the Harry Potter films. They probably didn’t expect to make a better film than Dan’s effort while they were at it – but that’s exactly what they did.

This is the long-standing British horror producer Hammer at it’s best, or close to it – they were the greatest horror producers of the 60s and 70s but, let’s face it, the world has moved on.

There’s not too much blood, gore or ridiculous CGI effects. But there are plenty of jumps, scares and tense moments that make you think, “Why can’t all horror films be like this? I just want to be made to jump out of my seat.”

And Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death does this very well.

Oaklee Pendergast in particular plays the sort of innocent, yet haunted 6-year-old child – who has lost his parents in a Nazi bombing raid and who becomes the unwitting conduit for all manner of evil – that has rarely been seen since Heather O’Rourkes performance in Poltergeist.

Phoebe Fox is the sort of prim and proper, perfectly lipsticked mother figure we’d expect from classic British horror of the 60s and 70s, while Leanne Best as the titular woman in black is a marginal part that only leaves us to wish Hammer had made this film before Guillermo del Toro made Mama – it’s good, but it’s not that good, and actually quite similar.

It is, however, refreshing to see good-quality European horror movies getting a release in the Middle East. Mama didn’t, to my knowledge.

This probably deserves five stars in comparison with the films that we usually get to see in cinemas here. When we judge it on its own merits as a European horror film, it’s good, but there are many better examples that haven’t been released here.

I’ll sit in judgement somewhere in between and give it four stars, in the hope that this may inspire cinema programmers to let us see more of the same.

cnewbould@thenational.ae

Published: December 31, 2014 04:00 AM

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